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The “Twin Study,” and What it Does and Does Not Say About The Health Hazards of Space Travel

11 Apr 2019, 18:05 UTC
The “Twin Study,” and What it Does and Does Not Say About The Health Hazards of Space Travel
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Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969, photographed by first-on-the-moon astronaut Neil Armstrong (NASA)

When Buzz Aldrin became the second man to ever walk on the moon, his lunar escapades, along with those of Neil Armstrong, were a cause of national and pretty much global joy, wonder and pride. That the mission was hazardous was self-evident — from launch to the ad-lib and hair-raising landing on the moon, to return to Earth– but the nation and certainly the astronauts were more than ready to take the risk.
A half century later, Armstrong has passed (at 82 from complication of cardiac surgery) but Aldrin is still writing books and proposing plans to reach Mars. Their time in space may well have changed their lives and views of the world, but it did not seem to affect their basic health.
But the two were in space for only eight days and so were not exposed to the long-term effects of solar radiation, microgravity and isolation that are now under intense study. Because the next generation of astronauts who may be going to the moon and beyond will be going for much longer periods of time and so will face a ...

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