According to new research, space travel is not harmful to a significant part of the human immune system. As the scientists behind this research reported, the study’s results might change the manner the astronauts approach space flight in future human-crewed missions to the Moon and Mars.
To reach these conclusions, scientists behind this study published in the Journal of Applied Physiology analyzed the blood samples of 23 astronauts who spent at least six months on the International Space Station (ISS), taken before, during and after their space journeys. The researchers discovered that there were no alterations at the levels of B-cell immunity which are those white blood cells that generate antibodies and fight against infections.
The new study contradicts previously accepted theory that spending a lot of time in space is weakening the human immune system. Fortunately, the new findings indicate that more extended crewed missions to the Moon and Mars might be safe for astronauts.
Space Travel Is Not Harmful To The Human Immune System
“This is the first study to comprehensively show that long-duration space flight in human astronauts has a limited effect on B-cell frequency and antibody production. Our results are good news for current astronauts aboard the ISS … and for all future astronauts who will attempt long-duration space missions,” explained Dr. John Campbell, a researcher at the University of Bath.
“Long-duration orbital space flights are associated with increased levels of psychological stress, acute and chronic exposure to space radiation and microgravity-induced changes, all of which are known to impact the immune system detrimentally,” said Dr. Guillaume Spielmann at the Louisiana State University.
To be safe, astronauts have to keep their optimal levels of B-cell immunity to prevent infections and other diseases at bay. According to the researchers, the human immunity system is also critical to be sure that any vaccine administered to astronauts while they’re in space is indeed useful.
With over seven years of experience in online journalism, Vadim is passionate about everything related to science and the environment. For us, he will thus cover climate, environment, and science news, among others.