February 10th, 2012
08:59 AM ET

Astronaut feels space's toll on his body

It’s not really why he signed up to be an astronaut, but like it or not, Mike Barratt and his eyes have become a science project.

The eye charts he reads, the red drops that turn his eyes yellow and the ultrasounds being performed on him could determine whether he or any other astronaut ever journeys into deep space or sets foot on other worlds.

NASA’s new priority is how to protect astronauts from going blind on the years-long trip to get wherever they are going.

“I absolutely agree that this is our number one priority,” Barratt said.

Why?

Because when Barratt blasted off to the international space station, he needed eyeglasses for distance. When he returned to Earth, his distance vision was fine, but he needed reading glasses. That was more than two years ago. And he’s not getting better.

“We really need to understand this. This is a critical point for understanding how humans adapt to spaceflight,” he said.

In the past few years, about half of the astronauts aboard the international space station have developed an increasing pressure inside their heads, an intracranial pressure that reshapes their optic nerve, causing a significant shift in the eyesight of male astronauts. Doctors call it papilledema.

Female space travelers have not been affected.

Some of the astronauts slowly recover. Others have not.

Space station astronauts typically spend about six months in orbit.

Barratt is one of 10 male astronauts, all older than 45, who have not recovered. Barratt returned from a six-month stint aboard the station in October 2009 and has experienced a profound change in his sight.

He used to be nearsighted. But now, the space veteran says he’s eagle-eyed at long distance but needs glasses for reading. There is no treatment and no answers as to why female space flyers are not affected.

CNN spent part of a day with Barratt, watching as doctors monitored his progress with high-resolution testing as they try to understand how the weightless environment of space is causing half of all space station astronauts to have this vision change. Today, space station astronauts fly with specially designed variable focus glasses to help combat the vision shift.

“The big benefit of these is that they allow us to adjust for significant prescription changes,” said Dr. Robert Gibson, a senior vision consultant, who was brought in to help study the problem.

Doctors have found that Barratt’s retinas have microscopic folds or wrinkles on them, and the back of his eye, the optic nerve, is no longer round but has flattened.

“I think this is showing that there are physiologic aspects of adaption to spaceflight we weren’t seeing before,” said Barratt.

This raises a red flag for all of NASA’s plans for long-duration human space flight. The space station is supposed to be the test bed for how humans would learn to live in space, but it opens profound questions on whether humans will ever venture to  Mars or to an asteroid if they are unable to figure out how the outer-space environment is affecting the eyes.

“This has all of our attention,” said Terry Taddeo, the acting chief of space medicine at Johnson Space Center in Houston.

“It is a serious problem and one we are going to have to understand more about before we would be able to send somebody into a long-duration mission away from Earth, where they would be away for years,” he said.

Right now, the only data that doctors have are from six-month tours of duty on the space station.

NASA has begun doing extensive preflight and postflight eye exams, including high-resolution MRIs of the eyes. There have been anecdotes  from some space shuttle astronauts who also complained about vision change, but it does not appear they had long-lasting effects from the much shorter space flights that typically lasted up to about three weeks.

“What we’re seeing appears to occur within the first couple of months of flight and appears to level off, plateau after about four to five months,” Gibson said.

“If it’s just a matter of giving them a stronger prescription, we can live with that,” he said. “But if there is an elevated intracranial pressure as the cause of this, we have to be concerned about other neurologic effects."

That means there could be other effects on the body that haven’t become apparent.

This is why a three-year mission to Mars is in question.

It would be humans' next great leap, and NASA is spending almost $18 billion over the next five years to develop a heavy lift rocket that would take astronauts to the Red Planet or even to an asteroid. They would travel in a new spacecraft, Orion.

But right now, a trip to Mars is still more science fiction than fact. No one is calling this vision problem a showstopper, yet the program’s price tag begs for a solution to be found fast so NASA won’t be building the world’s largest, fastest rocket to nowhere.

Dr. Bruce Ehni, a neurosurgeon at the VA Medical Center at the Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, has consulted with NASA and is the only neurosurgeon on their panel.

“If they can’t predict who is at risk ... they put his health in jeopardy. They put, possibly, the mission in jeopardy if he can’t see or do his job effectively,” he said.

But Barratt thinks that any deep space venture to Mars is still 20 years away. He’s hoping that spacecraft will be a whole lot faster than anything the space agency can fly now.

“You fly fast, and you don’t worry,” he said, with a grin.

“I’m still hopeful that in 20 years, we’ll have advanced propulsion capabilities that can get us there in a matter of weeks to a few months. Then, a lot of these problems go away,” he said.

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Filed under: In Space
soundoff (591 Responses)
  1. bigs

    I guess this means that only women can leave this rock. All the feminazis are going to love this news!

    February 11, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      Leaving all the men who abuse women back on earth, with nobody to abuse but eachother.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:19 pm |
  2. Mike_88

    Your body can't let your brain lift up in you head. Your skull isn't that tight. Women retain more fluid in their bodies so they aren't affected. It probably also has to do with the fat percentage under the skin to reflect the levels in other cushioning layers in the body.

    Who needs to see so close when you are trying to look into the depths of space? Humans in the bible used to be able to see a lot farther too. What's up with that?

    February 11, 2012 at 12:52 pm |
  3. Mike

    He is 45! After 40 adults close in vision starts to go bad normally, it's not rocket science!

    February 11, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • SB

      You have completely failed to read and comprehend the article. Congratulations!

      February 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
  4. Ron

    It looks more and more like God has nothing to do with human EVOLUTION. The body will EVOLVE to rectify this problem, just like it has EVOLVED for Millions of years.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
  5. Jason

    I wonder if it has anything to do with the fact that the eye is an open cavity that responds to pressure differences in space as compared to the pressure of the earths surface and perhaps the low gravity of the space station causes things to collapse becasue there is not enough pressure on them.... or maybe the higher oxygen content... an interesting story to say the least.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:37 pm |
    • OldOllie

      The atmosphere on the ISS is kept at sea-level pressure with a normal concentration of oxygen. It appears that this is caused by a lack of gravity.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
  6. Mike Rudmin

    Maybe... have the astronauts sleep in a sleeping chair, which is rotated to give centrifugal pressure down the spine. Or... maybe the whole space station needs to be rotated to give an artificial pseudo-gravity.

    Treatment later? Try having him sleep in a sleeping chair now, so that 24-hours a day there is downwards pressure. Maybe it'll recove - maybe not.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:32 pm |
    • Walter Johnson

      If weightlessness were a factor it would almost certainly affect men and women equally, which is not the case.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:58 am |
  7. OldOllie

    What's happening here is pretty obvious (but apparently not to CNN). Increased pressure in the cranium compresses the eyes from the back and changes the shape of the eye. This shortens the focal length between the lens and the retina which makes you more farsighted. Younger astronauts recover from this, because younger eye tissue is more elastic; older astronauts do not.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:24 pm |
  8. mmercier

    understandin this phenomena could possibly result in technology that permits the permanent manipulation of the optic nerve in beneficial manner.

    a zap in the head, no more glasses or contacts for life.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:16 pm |
    • mmercier

      dropped the g un understanding... cause I am going frigging blind too.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:18 pm |
  9. IrishEyesAreBlue

    I have NEVER been in outer space ... and for all my life I was NEAR-SIGHTED with ASTIGMATISM and 30 years ago acquired DOUBLE VISION – had to wear glasses to see anything further than across the room ... then about 12 years ago, OVERNIGHT, my eyesight became PERFECT! I can see ANY distance, no double vision, no astigmatism - do not need glasses at all (except reading glasses because of age) SOMETIMES THINGS JUST HAPPEN!!!!..

    February 11, 2012 at 12:05 pm |
    • SB

      You have failed to read and comprehend the article. Congratulations!

      February 11, 2012 at 3:36 pm |
  10. Steve

    I had the exact same eyesight change as the astronaut. I went from perfect nearsighted/problem farsighted to perfect farsighted/problem nearsighted during a three year period. The doctor said it was not unusual for my condition to occur as people age (56-60 in my case). It's Okay to study the astronaut population for a solution but maybe we old ordinary people could be studied as well.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
    • Mom

      This. I just mentioned to my adult children the other day that I suddenly realized I could see quite clearly across the street from my living room window but I cannot see to thread a needle anymore. I have always had perfect vision up close (mild nearsightedness in one eye, more so in another) but I've always had difficulty seeing more than 30-40 feet away. Now, all of a sudden, I have one eye that is most definitely far sighted while the other is near sighted. No space travel. Just over 50.

      February 13, 2012 at 1:07 am |
  11. dgs

    Obviously the brain ventricles are the problem. Motion of the brain is placing stress on the retinas. Women probably have the same problem, just less severe because of smaller size.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:55 am |
    • dgs

      Maris mission if off, but funding will continue for orbit missions. Good time to admit a problem.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:56 am |
  12. NASA needs to get with it on simulated gravity...

    Extend a long tether between the spent booster and the spacecraft, and spin. Instant artificial gravity. Problem solved. But even talking about that would undermine the justification of all the billions spent on the Station, conducting human physiology research.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  13. Sudbuster

    I can see both ways after I spaced out too!

    February 11, 2012 at 11:53 am |
  14. Duane Lawton

    Next they'll discover that hangnails are more prevalent in space, and postpone the Mars mission for that. They will find a simple solution for this eyesight thing. Worst cast, they produce artificial gravity by spinning the spacecraft. Yeah, I know that doesn't accommodate being on a world with 38% earth gravity–though that beats heck out of zero.

    NASA is one huge crony capitalism/political patronage machine. Its achievements are significant, but they cost too much and take too long. Its saving grace at the moment is the effort to support private space flight. Not really needed, but helpful. I expect that a private company will get people to Mars before NASA.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:46 am |
    • dale

      The reason why it takes so long when NASA does something, it is the contractors stretching out a one-year job into five years soaking up those taxpayers dollars.

      The private industry will be much faster their goal will be to save money get it done.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:54 am |
  15. dale

    Why isn't there more research going into radiation shielding, with Virgin Galactic getting started up more and more civilians are going to be going into outer space.
    Need new thinking NASA's thinking is old-fashioned in radiation shielding, there's got to be a better way.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:45 am |
    • dale

      It's got to be those sub atomic particles going through their eyes.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:47 am |
      • mmercier

        the astronauts have reported for years that their brains actually process spark like visions through closed eyes.

        February 11, 2012 at 12:27 pm |
    • yanr

      Virgin Galactic doesn't go to outer space. It goes to the technical definition of the edge of space. It is a glorified airplane ride, nothing more. You get more exposure to radiation on a cross-country flight, because it is up in the air longer.
      Let me know when they get to orbit, and maybe I'll change my opinion.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  16. private

    Use rotating hubs for artificial gravity. Von Neumann solved this problem long ago.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  17. Triple A

    The USA doesn't have a space program now, so why bother?

    February 11, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • zombierocket

      Sadly, you are right. We have no manned space program. Nothing. Let the Russians, Europeans, Chinese, Koreans, and Iranians worry about it while we continue to slip into 3rd world status.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:13 am |
  18. Cathy

    Hmm. I hope they do understand this mystery soon. It would be wonderful to discover a cure for nearsightedness that involves zero gravity instead of invasive lasers. Probably the data is sketchy for women because there is a much smaller pool of women astronauts to obtain data from... I'd happily volunteer to go to space for a while and help fill in the gaps. Lol. Who knows, maybe I would not need glasses afterwards. :)

    February 11, 2012 at 10:54 am |
  19. KenG

    How convenient! Just as Obama has completely kills US manned space-flight capabilities, we find out "Well, we couldn't have done this anyway, since it would have blinded the astronauts. Oh, and space is for women."

    "In the past few years, about half of the astronauts aboard the international space station have developed an increasing pressure inside their heads, an intracranial pressure that reshapes their optic nerve, causing a significant shift in the eyesight of male astronauts."

    in THE PAST FEW YEARS? How is it that all those years with Skylab, shuttle missions, and Russia's long-term orbital missions never turned this up? What, they didn't have eyecharts and glasses in the 1970s? I'm pretty sure they did.

    This is obvious propaganda from the Obamites: We're not losing anything because of our abandonment of manned space research, and if we do go to space, only women (inherently superior to men in every way!) (TM)) need apply."

    February 11, 2012 at 10:47 am |
    • zombierocket

      Fool. Space travel is not blinding male astronauts. Get your reading skills cleaned up. It alters some astronauts vision. Period. And if you were to induce artificial gravity (rotating living quarters), there would be no such problem. Are all Americans so flipping stupid?

      February 11, 2012 at 11:15 am |
      • Elizabeth

        No, we're not all that stupid, but some people have very big mouths, and they really scare me.

        February 11, 2012 at 2:27 pm |
      • Eyeball73

        well said Elizabeth. well said.

        February 13, 2012 at 12:53 pm |
  20. Richard L. A. Schaefer

    Just as differences in physical characteristics between males and females might justify limits on women regarding combat, it may be that passengers to Mars wll have to be limited to females.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:47 am |
  21. quantavius

    MARS NEEDS WOMEN! They should make a movie about it.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Elizabeth

      ROTFLOL :)

      February 11, 2012 at 2:28 pm |
  22. MamaConchita

    I bet if he stays in outer space even longer he will start morphing in to ET. I have always felt that ETs are humans who have experienced over exposure to forces that have altered their looks over time. Remember Darwin's theory of evolution' those who adapt survive. Just think of those fond memories on carnival/amusement parks rides where the gravitational forces thrust at you for an idea of what the astronauts are up against.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  23. Steve

    Just send females then...if they're not affected. Oh, but their "emotions" might be problematic. They might hit the destruct button when it's "that time of the month". At least it's a concern for the likes of Rick Santorum.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Elizabeth

      No, space probably reduces the hormone cycle, and therefore we would be more sane. And it explains everything: women come from space, men from earth.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:30 pm |
  24. VizzMan

    Just send them up there with about 100 pairs of glasses with different strengths and cameras attached to their heads. Problem Solved. Next Question Please.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  25. Steven Moshlak

    Four things potentially going on here, contributing to myopia in space. Tissue construction of the eye(s) and / or the surrounding area, air pressure and eye fluid pressure, and gravity.

    As far as readers are concerned, welcome to the wonderful world of being on the road of a senior citizen.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:28 am |
  26. lenora

    Simple. don't send men into space, send women.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:24 am |
  27. Will

    It is interesting that they will cancel the mission rather than have an all female crew. How short-sighted....

    February 11, 2012 at 10:19 am |
    • Elizabeth

      Obviously their myopia hasn't been cured.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:32 pm |
  28. Ryan

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_International_Space_Station_visitors

    204 individuals have been to the space station. 31 of those 204 were women. If we assume only 10% actually stayed 6 months, then 20 were men, 3 were women. Please call the f back when you get a stastically significant sample!

    February 11, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Ryan

      oops, make that 278 total, not 204. either way, this proves NOTHING. women will likely have the same exact problem, but the sample population is not large enough to see this.

      February 11, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • yanr

      I believe the key word here was 'assume'.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:56 pm |
      • Ryan

        even if all 31 women stayed for 6 months, that's not even remotely a significant sample. the key point is that it's likely both women and men will have this issue.

        February 12, 2012 at 5:26 am |
  29. JJ

    So just send all women...

    February 11, 2012 at 9:27 am |
  30. aj

    Males older than 45.... you know NASA for all your brains, maybe the men are just getting old and you missed it. But hey lets throw money at it like liberals. Try using younger men who havent had a career of power trips in the Air Force.

    February 11, 2012 at 8:45 am |
    • SB

      Congratulations! You have completely failed to read and comprehend the article. That's quite an accomplishment!

      February 11, 2012 at 3:39 pm |
  31. Tom Tac

    This is of great concern. Cranial pressure? Why? I know our bodies did not evolve in weightlessness, so if the blood system just acts up in half the people to overdo its pumping job, yikes the possibilities are not just limited to blindness.

    Besides, this has implications for us earthbound folks. I understand that six months flat on one's back in bed is a pretty good simulation of zero-G. Have they seen the same thing there? And a greater understanding of the blood system is bound to be useful in other ways.

    @jbird: The 'shunt' idea does address the pressure problem, and may be an ultimate solution. I am really concerned over the cranial pressure.

    February 11, 2012 at 8:41 am |
    • Elizabeth

      Think hormone changes caused by aging: very similar. It is quite probable that gravitational changes affect the endocrine glands.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:34 pm |
  32. Scott in Wisconsin

    I used to live in Florida and then moved to Wisconsin. WIthin a six month span I started going from feeling warm all the time to feeling colder. Now I wear a winter jacket until March. In FLorida I never ever wore one. Better study this, NASA!

    February 11, 2012 at 8:02 am |
  33. Herby Sagues

    It shouldn't be a big problem for a Mars mission. Flight would barely reach six months one way. Then, a few months of mars gravity which would give them time to recover. Finally, a few more months of travel back.
    Of course, the real solution is well-known: put a rotating unit in the spaceship to simulate gravity so astronauts can spend a few hours each day under simulated gravity. Or even better, since a ship to Mars has to be pretty big anyway, make the whole thing rotating during sleep time, so astronauts have time to recover physically in their sleep.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:55 am |
    • Atom

      NASA has zero understanding about life above or below – the answer is an embryonic life support system within the space vessel. Of course, this is for life support///& accelerated speed travel.

      Hydroponics will be dealt with as a caustic in an Earth environmentally Friendly environment until human living quarters can be released into holding tanks for other missions, (on planet)

      This technology is not for a "short" hop to MARS,...

      Nice to read about possible reactors being built in the States!

      Not in this Century

      AAAAK

      February 11, 2012 at 4:16 am |
  34. Left Nut

    NASA ain't what it use to be,... No Baby Boomer Astronaut would cry over spilled milk like this.

    WORLD PEACE FIRST!

    February 11, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  35. Yanker

    Didn't their mothers tell them yanking it to much would make them go blind. 0.o

    February 11, 2012 at 3:30 am |
  36. Denverdriver

    Everything we need to know about Mars can be found out with unmanned missions, and at a far, far cheaper price.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:12 am |
  37. Space Guy

    If the problem is with micro gravity than create a doughnut shaped space ship that spins as it travels thus creating gravity inside via centrifugal force.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:06 am |
  38. M-Theory

    This doesn't surprise me... CNN message board ass-tro-nuts go from short-sighted to fully retarded in a matter of minutes.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:55 am |
    • Left Nut

      Space IS the Place!

      Cheers

      February 11, 2012 at 3:38 am |
  39. Joe Girouard

    . On earth, we experience a variation of barometric pressures.
    I wonder if the problem with the eyes in space is due to the constant cabin pressure???

    February 11, 2012 at 2:36 am |
  40. alloowishus

    didn't the author see 2001 a Space Odyssey? Obviously we need some kind of artificial gravity for prolonged trips in space. It's not just the eyes, but the bones deteriorate as well.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:03 am |
  41. Kenny

    Doesn't matter Obama just cut funding for NASA. We can't launch people into space. We are not going to the moon. the first human on Mars will be Chinese. So why bother. Just scrap the whole dam thing. Pos Politicians.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • Elise44

      Ahhh you are so right problem, their shoes won't last the whole trip

      February 11, 2012 at 3:29 am |
  42. Skipper

    If you have ever witnessed women behaving toward one another in the workplace, you know that, unless its a solo mission, an all-woman crew on a long duration trip to Mars is not a viable solution.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:52 am |
    • checi

      Couldn't be any worse than the gossipy all male crew that I work with.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:46 am |
  43. Matthew E

    Yeah, what's wrong with the rotating ship solution others have mentioned? Seems obvious, but presumably there's a problem. Doesn't seem cost-prohibitive. Well, Mr Anonymous journalist?

    February 11, 2012 at 1:40 am |
    • yanr

      The ship would need to be rather large to use rotational artificial gravity at a reasonable rotation rate. Thats a problem.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:04 pm |
  44. Jesus Christ is Lord

    This comment was flagged for review of all your filthy rag sins throughout your life and to help you see your need of the precious blood of Jesus Christ to wash you clean and be clothed in Christ's robe of righteousness that is spotless and as white as snow.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:37 am |
    • Elise44

      HUH??????

      February 11, 2012 at 3:31 am |
    • checi

      Eww. You guys are sounding uglier and uglier. Religion getting that desperately full of hate? A little Baker Act goes a long way.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:48 am |
  45. agonyflips

    OK so we build space stations with Rotating living quarters that provide the centrifugal force to equate to artificial gravity, as per Arthur C. Clark and shown in the movie 2001. See Problem solved... probably before this article writer was born.

    Next...

    February 11, 2012 at 1:16 am |
  46. Rich Morholt

    The solution might be very simple, design the spacecraft so as it would have a rolling chamber for the living and working area. The forward center would be weightless of course and would be for controlling the craft on it's trip. The rolling chamber (centrifugal force), would provide artificial gravity for the astronauts and could be adjustable to any level desired. If effect the astronauts could enjoy the best of both worlds, Earth's gravity or weightlessness. Staying in shape and maintaining proper muscle tone would be accomplished 24/7.
    The movie makers had it right, as I see it, after all they only portrayed what the scientific advisers told them it should be for a long trip. Some of those advisers worked for NASA as well, but money talks as well as Congress.
    The other problem however is long term exposure to radiation. Now that could be a bigger problem.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:14 am |
    • agonyflips

      Great minds think alike.

      Yes, radiation is the big problem. One coronal mass ejection in the direction of the space ship, and it was nice knowing ya.
      But just regular radiation is sure to make them a wealth of cancers even after just a couple years in space.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:23 am |
  47. MikeNg

    coffee will make your eye worth...Bilberry will treat & prevent myopia

    February 11, 2012 at 1:10 am |
  48. agonyflips

    "...there is an elevated intracranial pressure as the cause of this..."

    Imagine what a child would look like raised in zero gravity. They might develop into the Bumheads of StarTrek.

    Gigantic brains, Huge evolutionary step. They'll look back and see us as no better than dressed up chimpanzees.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:05 am |
    • checi

      For all we know, they're probably up there in the space station right now experimenting with raising little human clones in zero gravity.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:51 am |
  49. David

    At least he has no problem seeing object that are far away now. You trade one thing off for another. If he likes it better this way, why would he want to recover?

    Im nearsighted but have always wondered if it would be better to be farsighted

    February 11, 2012 at 1:03 am |
    • Left Nut

      When all said is done,... he should be glad he can still get it up!

      February 11, 2012 at 3:51 am |
  50. S.M.E.

    The ametropias (nearsightedness, farsightedness, etc., are statistically correlated with the axial length of the eye, longer axial length associated with nearsightedness (myopia). Therefore, Astronauts should have axial lengths measured before and after long term space flight, just to rule out changes in axial length as a cause of the reported change in refractive error. In the present case, a longer axial length would account for increased myopia and decreased hyperopia (farsightedness).

    Also, intraocular pressure should be measured pre and post as well as in flight to determine if this is a contributing factor to possible changes in axial length.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:59 am |
  51. Anya

    Finally, the proof that that masturbation lead to blindness and hairy hands! No wonder women are not affected.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:47 am |
  52. ab

    Well, the human body evolved to live on Earth, not zero-gravity space. If it was intelligent design, I guess the designer wasn't too intelligent after all. :)

    February 11, 2012 at 12:34 am |
  53. oban18

    If intracranial pressure is high enough to cause papilledema, over three years, a vision shift is the least of your worries. Neurological damage would occur. It sounds like they found some macular edema or puckering too. It is completely normal for a nearsighted person to become slightly more farsighted over time, though. Especially in their 40's.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:29 am |
    • Walter Johnson

      I had 20/400 vision and my eyesight never improved until I had cataracts and lens replacement, which gave me 20/20 in one eye and 20/15 in the other eye. Normally aging becoming noticeable for most people by age 45 moves away the near point of vision, which is why we all wind up with reading glasses. It can be true that some types of visual problems will improve with age alone, but that is usually due to hardening of the lens our eyes focus through along with probably loss of lens adjusting muscle tone.

      What makes this problem especially hard to understand is that only men are affected. I wonder if NASA had inlcuded in its protocol testing of testosterone levels before and after six months in space. That might explain the loss of bone density, muscle mass, and potentially all differences in health for men...The one thing certain is this problem is not going to be suddenly fixed. Vitamin D could be a factor as well, since it contols calcium level in the blood, bone density, and acts as a mild anti-inflammatory among other functions..

      February 12, 2012 at 8:57 am |
  54. John Lane

    Just have disk-shaped, rotating spacecraft. This would result in centrifugal force that would replace gravity. It should solve any medical problems caused by zero-gravity conditions.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:23 am |
  55. Rich Morholt

    There is a simple solution to this and other problems with long term flight. Redesign the spacecraft in which a rotating collar is provided for the astronauts can sleep. In this way the astronaut is exposed to a period of gravity, allowing the body to readjust. The expanded approach would include a rolling chamber to generally live in, and have the forward center of the craft be used for controlling the craft. Of course this would end up as the "weightless" zone of the craft.

    We see this approach countless times in the movies, which was by the advisement of scientists by the way, so why not just do it for real? Right?

    February 11, 2012 at 12:20 am |
  56. crc

    We are not in Space, NASA in history! Now they want us to worry about the handful of people they send. Russians mainly. So I say so what. Who cares. Americans should not.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  57. Observer

    Maybe it's from being indoors and on the computer too much.

    February 11, 2012 at 12:12 am |
  58. Newport Pagnell

    Manned spaceflight is so 1960's....give it up,there's nothing a person could do that a robotic spacecraft couldnt do better and cheaper.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:54 pm |
    • BoogerBalls

      My dishwasher is a crude robot. It keeps depositing scale on my glasses when it seems clearly obvious to me that this is avoidable. I interject and set it straight with a dose of lime every few weeks. Sometimes the spinner gets stuck on a tall pot and the entire load has to be rewashed, but that is only after I have to get involved and apply common sense. The Mars Rover got stuck in a shallow pothole. A human was both, the rival and the victor in Star Wars. The captain of the Enterprise on Star Trek was a human and not a robot.

      My argument is perfect. All flaws are actually your own inability to comprehend. Save yourself the shame in trying to dispute.

      WINNING

      February 11, 2012 at 12:13 am |
  59. bman

    It's not space that's affecting their eyes, it's the small minded plans of the people sending them up there. The lack of gravity is causing them to adapt. If we built a spinning structure large enough to avoid vertigo, they would have gravity in space and they wouldn't lose bone mass nor any other effects that we are subjecting these human guinea pigs to.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:49 pm |
    • jj

      No, their not adapting....the lack of gravity is literally deforming their optic nerve into an unnatural flat instead of round. Saying they are adapting is like saying a heart attack is adapting to an irregular rythm...

      February 10, 2012 at 11:55 pm |
  60. Moha

    The first MANkind on mars will be a woMAN !

    February 10, 2012 at 11:44 pm |
  61. helenecha

    Female space flyers usually look younger than male astronauts older than 45. So, I’d like to say that astronauts' physiologic age seems pretty essential.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  62. DougieT

    “I’m still hopeful that in 20 years, we’ll have advanced propulsion capabilities that can get us there in a matter of weeks to a few months. Then, a lot of these problems go away,” he said.

    Does he think that we will have warp drive engines by then? Heck, we still don't even have matter-antimatter engines yet.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:28 pm |
    • yanr

      Yeah, don't let a little inconvenient thing like physics stop you.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
    • SB

      No, he was referring to real technologies that are already in the testing stage, like VASIMR. Electric drive.

      February 11, 2012 at 3:44 pm |
  63. DWilk

    Watch out! The Republicans might put a stop to all space flights because of this!

    February 10, 2012 at 11:24 pm |
  64. Some dudes

    Proof that souls are wheighed down by gravity

    February 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  65. BoogerBalls

    IIf only we humans had a way to mix the DNA of a female and a male to create a space-resistant [male] offspring...

    February 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
    • checi

      Ehem....male and female DNA is mixed every time a human egg is fertilized. Sometimes it even turns out to be a space resistant girl.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:55 am |
      • Ocie

        Don't feed the trolls. BoogerBall isn't up there either, and the same brain that came up with "boogerball" came up with the comment behind it. This divide and fight thing that happens whenever one mixes girls, boys, + anything else won't get the job done. Skill gets the job done. Poorly socialized people who think with their hearts and not their heads use prejudice to decide who has skill in groups of thousands instead of common sense and interview to decide who has it in a group of one.

        February 13, 2012 at 7:06 pm |
    • Ocie

      Space-resistant or not you're down here with the rest of us typing comments on CNN.

      February 13, 2012 at 7:07 pm |
      • Ocie

        And before this eye-thing was even known, apparently, male or not you weren't up there either like many other women and men who can't or weren't selected for the job. NASA and the future are frontiers not battlegrounds. Don't treat it out of character.

        February 13, 2012 at 7:09 pm |
  66. mairez

    that's not putting his health at risk – it's putting his vision at risk, but only for an over-40 characteristic – i was told when i had my lasik surgery ay age 43 that this would happen. it's interesting, but not life-threatening – really interesting that it's only males. would love to see the long-range data. the price you pay for being cutting edge (and they know it).

    February 10, 2012 at 11:17 pm |
  67. area51 alien

    they should wear anti radiation, xray, gamma ray googles all the time.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:14 pm |
  68. Arno

    During some of the first space missions, there were reports of astronauts seeing erratic light flashes, initially thought to have been hallucinations. After examining the helmets these people wore under a microscope, punctures and tracks in the material led to the conclusion that their eyes had likely been shot through by neutrinos, sub-microscopic particles that shoot through space as a result of supernovae. The effects on eye sight were the only ones noticed at first. I think, therefore, it is likely that the effects of this new phenomena will be found in more than the eyes as well.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:03 pm |
    • BoogerBalls

      Oh SH!T

      February 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
    • yanr

      I grade that a D minus.
      There are billions of neutrinos passing through your body every second, and are not detectable.
      The flashes of light are due to Cherenkov radiation caused by relativistic particles passing through the eyes, not neutrinos. The helmets were part of a dosimetry experiment to measure the cosmic ray dose experienced by the astronauts.

      February 11, 2012 at 1:31 pm |
  69. rtbrno65

    Hey I have an idea. Let's free ourselves of this decades of brain washing and conditioniong to believe that we can exploit and ruin this planet, and then set out into space like locusts to do it all over again on some other planet. Maybe we can use our talents and abilities to figure out how to not f**k up things here.

    February 10, 2012 at 11:02 pm |
    • checi

      BP wants to know if there is oil on Mars.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:58 am |
  70. Bob

    The answer is pretty simple. Women make men do all the work in space while they chill out drinking beer. Poor sleep deprived guys are loosing vision. Guys next time take some mexicans.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:38 pm |
  71. Chiara

    Men – it's time to move over. W-O-M-A-N will dominate deep space!

    February 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
  72. john cougar mellenkamp

    presbyopia

    February 10, 2012 at 10:32 pm |
    • mairez

      agree.

      February 10, 2012 at 11:23 pm |
  73. joeinalabama

    If you believe that we evolved or were created to live in a 1G environment, there could be many long term effects to 0G

    February 10, 2012 at 10:24 pm |
  74. Need a Sammitch

    good to know that sandwitch making wont be reduced in outere rpace

    February 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  75. EdNv

    Do we really need to spell it out? The men need to stop masturbating on the IIS.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:22 pm |
    • EdNv

      oops ISS

      February 10, 2012 at 10:23 pm |
  76. Kanageloa

    Ah yes, another good reason to can the Mars Project now before we start to spend billions needlessly. We can take that money and put it towards the cure for some cancers. Now that's productive instead of dreaming.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:09 pm |
    • mairez

      bs – the long-range contributions to humanity from space exploration far out-weigh the cost (and i have a sister who is stage 3/4 breast cancer).

      February 10, 2012 at 11:20 pm |
  77. Atom

    Human are not suppose to go where they are not suppose to go – Deep Ocean & Outer Space.

    This is an isolated suggested cause and effect on a middle aged man that happen to spend some time in outer space which should be dismissed.

    This is another excuse for wanting workman's comp and NASA hoping to secure 100 billion for further research.

    Perhaps NASA should offer "FREE" sunglasses and mention not to look at the Sun when sight-seeing out there.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
  78. justin

    Just replace their eyes with cybernetic eyes attached to their optic nerves. or better yet build a space craft large enough to have not only simulated gravity of that on earth, but also the propulsion to get to where they need to go in a faster amount of time... Solid rocket motors are a thing of the past, move on to something bigger and better.

    February 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
  79. packerfans

    Why not building mother ship alike star trek , it will be safe trip to Mars and colony there!! Need alike UfO shape smalls ship to land mars to live colony there!! The mother ship can used oftens with the reactors and increase speed faster. it will save trillions dollars. How stupid Nasa want big rockets and waste the money and one way sucide and fuel out gas? What we need reactors with mother ships will be safe peoples can come back earth again!! The mother ship will have gravity inside and will our brain and eye and health normal. too risk without the gravity weighless problem with health in the big stupid rockets!!

    February 10, 2012 at 10:02 pm |
    • justin

      Do all packer fans have that bad of grammar/spelling skills?

      February 10, 2012 at 10:06 pm |
    • Atom

      Well said!

      To answer all your questions as simple as possible,... the fact is that the current technology prohibits space travel for humans.

      NASA never went to the MOON. The Cold War was going on and a little Hollywood science fiction along with the added Star Wars defense system nonsense kept the Russians running scared.

      If an Asteroid ever approaches Earth to cause an E.L.E the technology such as in the movie "DEEP IMPACT" does/will not exist – we will all be dust in the wind.

      Most that read these sensationalized news articles should drink a lot less Kool-Aid and do there own research with applied critical thinking skills.

      February 10, 2012 at 10:35 pm |
      • rtbrno65

        If NASA never went to the Moon then how were they able to leave so much of their garbage there?

        February 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm |
      • BoogerBalls

        You communist/Arab/Chinaman, we certainly did land on the moon! I PERSONALLY witnessed the video, from my couch, recorded on DVR, from the History channel, of the glorious American flag waving in the wind as it was planted on the surface. Shame on you!

        February 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
      • Rich Morholt

        Sorry Atom, your wrong, we did make it to the moon. I helped get us there. Check out the web sight Myth Busters, you know the show on TV. Check out the part about the moon pictures and other questions about that expedition. Don't sell your country short. A lot of work went into going to the moon, and a lot of sacrifice by a lot of people. Don't be naive.

        February 11, 2012 at 1:28 am |
      • yanr

        Atom, you're one of the 99%, aren't you?

        February 11, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  80. Just A What If

    Women weren't as affected because they did less work. The only reason they're up there is due to affirmative action anyways.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:57 pm |
  81. whatever

    they told me that I would go blind if I did that...Maybe that has something to do with this....

    February 10, 2012 at 9:56 pm |
  82. whatever

    They told me I better stop that or I would go blind maybe that has something to do with this....

    February 10, 2012 at 9:53 pm |
  83. SiXiam

    I wonder if this problem is similar to the drag racer problem of sudden acceleration causing eye problems.
    It may be a two part problem: sudden acceleration and long term space exposure.
    However my best guess is that the sudden acceleration causes eye damage, but then it doesn't heal right due to the limited gravity. Meaning one problem, not two.
    The solution would be a spaceship with less sudden acceleration, but that means going beyond rockets.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:52 pm |
  84. John Luma

    I'm sure they'll find a solution, but it doesn't look like there's any nationalistic interest in the U.S. being first to Mars. It's an indication of how far we're sinking when big goals no longer unite us as a culture and drive us to achieve great things. We need that inspiration and those programs.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:51 pm |
  85. Blindasabat

    Too much time in close quarters for these over-45 guys with their eyes focusing primarily on nearby objects for extended periods of time. I recommend precautionary far distance eye exercises. You're welcome. Will that be credit or debit?

    February 10, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  86. PhilG.

    One of the numerous protections provided by the molecular soup called an atmosp[here.

    In space unchecked by any atmospheric molecules to slow them down,space enegry arrives in astronautrs eyes at a extremely high rate of speed.

    It's that unchecked speed that makes even the smallest of energy molecules a hazard for astronauts eyes.

    There may need to be a rethink of just what the constuction of the space in front of an astronauts eyes is to include some form of molecular barrier that allows vision unhindered but actually includes a layer of say modified argon gas in a barrier to allow the molecules to decelerate before striking an astonauts irises.

    It could include a computer controlled powersource that identifies times of arriving increased solar radiation and produces a bath of energy in the visor area in directions sideways from the arriving solar radiation to preclude any unhindered unslowed radiation from getting to an astronuats eyes.

    Or they could just wear welders mask while in space.

    Almosts looks like there is a real good reason why in space,you'll be totally dependant on camera's to see what is outside instead of windows no matter how thickly constructed.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:49 pm |
  87. IReadItSomewhere

    We need a wheel in the middle of a wheel...read that somewhere.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  88. stevo

    really? this is the front page on cnn? isnt there bigger news?

    February 10, 2012 at 9:48 pm |
  89. Tom

    Somebody better know how to make eyeglasses on them long space journies

    February 10, 2012 at 9:45 pm |
  90. thebeerdude

    I guess this article explains why all of the astronauts look spaced out.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:44 pm |
  91. Deep North

    Did they really ask how not to go blind on long space trips???????? Add women! Simple,,,,,

    February 10, 2012 at 9:42 pm |
  92. Chris

    We were not designed for space travel. Maybe we can adapt...

    February 10, 2012 at 9:37 pm |
  93. Duh

    I mean c'mon he's 45. Your getting old man. Hate to be the one to inform you

    February 10, 2012 at 9:36 pm |
  94. Truth

    Shut up Mike , you wussy.. You are the reason the government is cutting funding for NASA. THE AMERICAN SPIRIT IS EXPLORATION AND YOUR KILLING IT WITH YOUR COMPLAINTS ABOUT READING GLASSES. FIND A NEW LINE OF WORK BECAUSE I WILL GLADLY TAKE YOUR POSITION.

    February 10, 2012 at 9:14 pm |
    • BoogerBalls

      application denied.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:16 am |
  95. tare

    Waste of time and money – astronauts serve no useful purpose. Interesting – yes, challenging – yes, useful – NO!

    February 10, 2012 at 9:11 pm |
    • zombierocket

      Typical answer.

      February 11, 2012 at 11:11 am |
    • mmercier

      luddite.

      February 11, 2012 at 12:34 pm |
  96. john cougar mellenkamp

    Over 45 and problems with reading...PRESBYOPIA. Most people unless they are myopic 3 diopters -3.00 which cancels out the reading perscription of plus 3.00 will have problems reading after 40 years of age. This is caused by the loss of pliability of the lens.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:36 pm |
  97. Josh

    When they told me that I would go blind if I didn't stop, I didn't think they were referencing Star Trek.

    February 10, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  98. Mungo32

    Here's the way it works:

    Your retina is developmentally an extension of the brain. If there is increased intracranial pressure, that will extend into the eyeball and put pressure on the back of the optic disc (the place where the optic nerve exits the eye). THis is the weakest part of the eyeball, because the tough tissue that lines the rest of the back of the eye is absent there, to allow the nerve to pass through. As that pressure builds up, the retina is pushed away from the back of the eye, effectively shortening the distance between the cornea and the retina. Light is therefore no longer focused properly. Someone who was myopic before (nearsighted), with a relatively large eye, then becomes more hyperopic (farsighted).

    Really, it's the exact opposite of how glaucoma is thought to occur, where high intraocular pressure pushes on the optic disc and kills the cells that make up the nerve.

    So 'curing' your myopia is not really a good thing if this is how you do it, as one person suggested. Most likely this an early symptom, which would progress to something worse if the person continued to be exposed to this environment.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:45 pm |
  99. jbird

    The solution to this might be sketchy on ethics, but it would work. Install shunts in the craniums of all crew prior to mission time.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
    • asda

      needs glasses for reading and over 45 ..............give me a break. its called getting old

      February 10, 2012 at 9:23 pm |
      • learntoread

        asda, you clearly didn't read the article. The concern is that he went from near-sighted to far-sighted over the duration of his trip. That's not just aging, that's a significant change.

        February 10, 2012 at 9:46 pm |
      • Marie

        Ohhh.....so right. I had 20/20 vision until I reached 40. Slowly started to become more and more far-sighted. In the beginning it was annoying, but so subtle, it eventially takes over, and Y OU get used to it.

        February 10, 2012 at 10:03 pm |
      • Louis

        quote: "He used to be nearsighted. But now, the space veteran says he’s eagle-eyed at long distance but needs glasses for reading."

        I would gladly trade my nearsightedness for reading glasses!!! everyone will eventually need reading glasses as they age, but to have crisp clear distance vision as a side effect of your job.... priceless.

        February 10, 2012 at 10:04 pm |
      • jj

        learntoread....don't even try with these people. they don't get the point of the article.

        February 10, 2012 at 11:53 pm |
      • afspacejunkie

        JJ/Learntoread....let the ignorant be ignorant. I couldn't agree more with you learntoread.

        February 11, 2012 at 1:31 am |
      • pebblesoda

        I think we can glean from the tone of the article that this change in vision has obviously not been perceived by the astronauts in question as being either normal or beneficial. These are highly trained, intelligent people, people. I mean we're talking a bout a complete reshaping of the optic nerve here... I think I would be concerned too!

        February 11, 2012 at 1:40 am |
      • Neo

        Issue is farsightedness(ie reading glasses) is not correctable via laser surgery for one. And two the article mentioned it was caused by intracranial pressure distorting the optic nerve. Both of those conditions i'd be unhappy with after a mere 6 months in space. Solution seems clear, send women to Mars ;)

        February 11, 2012 at 9:21 am |
      • DudeZXT

        @Neo ~ and send men to Venus? :-P

        February 11, 2012 at 11:39 am |
      • Bruce

        Mars needs women? There just might be a movie in that!

        February 11, 2012 at 12:23 pm |
      • yanr

        So his farsightedness was corrected, and they're looking for a 'cure'? As to the nearsighedness, welcome to mid-life.

        February 11, 2012 at 12:44 pm |
      • SB

        Yanr, not only did you fail to read and comprehend the article, but you also failed to read and comprehend the various comments in this thread that point out how others failed to read and comprehend the article in precisely the same way. That's quite an accomplishment.

        February 11, 2012 at 3:34 pm |
      • Macmab

        I am not a medical professional, but it might be as simple as being in a zero graviry environment for an extended time. But I am not sure why women have bot been affected, possibly because there are far fewer women that have had extended stays in space, and the data is incomplete (not nearly the sample size to choose from).

        February 12, 2012 at 2:14 pm |
      • Eyeball73

        Good One Bruce!

        February 13, 2012 at 12:50 pm |
      • Josh

        My eyesight getting worse as I grow older, is absolute proof that I was once abducted by aliens, and flew on-board their spaceship. Thank you NASA for confirming this for me.

        February 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm |
    • Nick

      They have kitchens in space? What else can women be doing up there?

      February 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm |
      • zomie kid

        They're up there to blow the men, naturally...

        February 11, 2012 at 1:26 am |
      • Elise44

        you are just jealous, Women are already the center of the universe. always have been

        February 11, 2012 at 3:25 am |
      • jijo

        knitting a sweater for start

        February 12, 2012 at 12:07 am |
      • Me

        The women are there to do the real astronauts' work while the men can sit back & whine about the changes in their eyesight!

        February 12, 2012 at 3:02 am |
      • Ezo

        I'm sure all of your mothers and sisters are proud to read your male chauvinistic comments.

        February 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm |
      • Ocie

        More than you.

        February 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm |
    • Amos Flonkerton

      ......I accidentally scrolled to the bottom of this page and saw all of these opinions.........I'm kinda baffled at how so many people at how many of you have opinions....and post them.....who cares what you think?.....what egos you all must have to think that you would post here......it's amazing to me how highly you value your opinions.....I got a bit of a factoid for you folks...nobody cares....stop wasting your time and go put your energy into doing something that matters.....

      February 10, 2012 at 11:46 pm |
      • Nathan

        And what exactly are you doing by posting? hypocrite.

        February 11, 2012 at 12:06 am |
      • Harry Backanass

        Said the poster who just gave his opinion who obviously thought highly enough to post.

        February 11, 2012 at 12:09 am |
      • borntothebreed7

        Oh, you're wasting YOUR time trying to tell this to these morons. Most people (especially those of below-average intelligence) don't have any concept of how irrelevant their thoughts and opinions are. The simple fact that 80% of the people who post comments can't spell or create a grammatically correct sentence should tell you all you need to know about them...

        February 11, 2012 at 12:10 am |
      • GrumpyOldLady

        It is an idiot platform. Trolls and all. Maybe started with the Rush's opinions on everything. Sometimes I'm asked for my opinion on things that I have little knowledge of and when I say I don't have one or I just don't care, I get the wide-eyed look as if I'm crazy and then they go on a rant about something. They'll rant on anything. Maybe it's a form of therapy instead of talking to themselves.

        February 11, 2012 at 1:47 am |
      • Stan_DC

        I have no opinion on this issue..... :)

        February 11, 2012 at 12:06 pm |
      • TehKitteh

        HA-ha, you people fed a troll.

        February 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
      • MaryInBoise

        And yet, you feel compelled to share YOUR opinion. Not much into practicing what you preach, are you Amos?

        February 12, 2012 at 12:58 pm |
    • That May be the key

      I think this is only the tip of the ice berg..It's like jumping into the ocean.. The deeper you go the stranger things get..

      February 11, 2012 at 1:46 am |
      • Dottie

        Great analogy.

        February 11, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Almond

      Just send the women.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:38 am |
      • Fastflyer

        Simple. Doesn't cost anything extra and is effective. The NASA Amazon Corps. I like the sound of that.

        February 11, 2012 at 4:56 pm |
      • meemee

        I think we could predict what we would find if we went out to search for an all female expedition years later; "Commander, not one of them is alive. They seem to have clawed one another to death."

        February 12, 2012 at 3:41 pm |
      • Mom

        I don't understand the controversy. I agree with you. Just send women. Problem fixed.

        February 13, 2012 at 1:02 am |
    • redbaron

      If the issue is truly pressure effects (or lack thereof) on the body, and a weightless environment, and no other cosmic cause, then NASA has to solve the weightless issue. Find a way to build spacecrafts with artificial gravity (not boots). Star trekky perhaps but likely needed

      February 11, 2012 at 9:32 am |
      • Oliver

        Ironically,, when I was in Jr High back in the early 1970s, I did a science experiment about artifical gravity and proved that it can be created,,, It's simple... Centrifugal force. Put water in a bucket on a rope... spin around with it, where does the bucket go? When you go fast enough, the bucket is nearly straight out... >>1G<< Equal to earth's gravity. How hard is it to create a space rocket... that spins??? The wider the circle, the slower the spin needed to create gravity.

        A lesson from a 7th grader...
        I grew grass on a turntable in a 12 inch cake pan at 45 rpm... In about 6 weeks, the grass had sprouted and was growing at a 45 degree angle.... the effect of 0.5G.

        And I was only REPEATING an already PROVEN theory... I just put the idea to it for SPACE travel.

        NASA... Wake up!!

        February 11, 2012 at 11:50 pm |
      • Anonymous

        @Oliver: Look up the O'Neill Cylinder, Stanford Torus, and Bernal Sphere.

        February 12, 2012 at 5:03 am |
      • yanr

        Oliver, here's why you didn't win that science fair. The outward force on the bucket reaches 1G and balances the downward force of gravity when the bucket rises to 45 degrees. The effective net force on the bucket would then be 1.4G. For the bucket to approach 90 deg, the outward force would need to be considerably higher. At 10G outward force, the bucket would be at 84 deg. At 100G, it would be at 89.4 deg.

        February 18, 2012 at 11:06 am |
    • Netwalker

      Proof that women have natural increased intracranial pressure – something I found out about 6 months after I got married!

      February 11, 2012 at 9:34 am |
      • karlheiz

        slow learner.

        February 11, 2012 at 11:35 am |
      • qwerty

        you r all wrong moma said that u will die in space because of the devil

        March 1, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Kiler

      @ jbird, Well reasoned – I had the same thought. Not sure, though, if the change is suspected due to pressure build-up, and shunts are possible, why not try this on an affected astronaut – if pre-installing them is possible, post-installing them should have the equivalent effect. I suspect they have not worked out how to safely do this.

      Of course, the real solution is artificial gravity! Personally, I would worry more about proper radiation shielding on deep space missions . . . We have very little data on this.

      February 11, 2012 at 9:44 am |
    • Alinnc

      They have been taken over by alien beings?

      February 11, 2012 at 9:35 pm |
    • Troll posts

      I wonder why they bother to open community posts for articles like this. Most of these trolls still think the Earth is the center of the universe.

      February 12, 2012 at 1:00 am |
    • kelly38m

      I bet you guys making fun of this are Republicans.

      February 12, 2012 at 7:10 am |
    • Walter Johnson

      The obvious answer is plan for sending only women to Mars or an asteroid until this problem is completely understood and a solution found. Any implanted device raises medical risks and that cannot be accpeted. The presence of one would automatically disqualify a person from even becoming an astronaut.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:27 am |
    • Martin Curry

      or placing a larger durable lens over the front of the eye to help the eyes keep there shape. something in a heavier gauge lens materials that is UV resistant and form fitting. It would help to bring us to the notion of men from outer space having black eyes and leads to self fullfilling ideology.

      February 13, 2012 at 9:18 am |
    • Jack

      The article begs the question, Why are only males affected? Or, why are females not affected?

      February 13, 2012 at 4:29 pm |
  100. Riiiiiight

    Hogwash.

    Female astronauts have been unaffected because last I checked female astronauts aren't sent into space for prolonged periods of time.

    All three contributors to this article are women.

    February 10, 2012 at 6:05 pm |
    • Jessica

      Hogwash, Plenty of women have been on the same length of stays at the IIS that men have. One of our female astronauts has even spent an unusually extended amount of time on MIR when there was a problem that delayed her return to Earth. Do a bit of research first.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:16 pm |
      • Riiiight

        Jessica, women have not been subjected to the same prolonged conditions that the men have – not in numbers from which reasonable comparisons could be made.

        You admit this in so many words, yourself. Sorry to burst your bubble but your specious reasoning won't fly with me. I know you want to feel superior by birthright, but you just... well... aren't.

        February 10, 2012 at 6:53 pm |
    • Jeanne

      Really? How many decades ago did you last check? Google Suni Williams, for starters. Or Shannon Lucid. Or Peggy Whitson.

      February 10, 2012 at 6:35 pm |
    • bing52

      Ladies won the argument. Quite a few women did serve a 6-month spaceflight. I found out in Wikipedia.

      February 10, 2012 at 9:54 pm |
    • eldono

      Is this true? If so, why wasn't it mentioned int he article. so, you are suggesting that women would have the same problem as men. Riiiiiight?

      February 10, 2012 at 11:31 pm |
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