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. Vision Without Glasses Review

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    July 13, 2012 at 6:29 pm |
  2. How aging affects eyesight

    Thanks for every other fantastic post. The place else may just anyone get that kind of information in such a perfect manner of writing? I've a presentation subsequent week, and I am at the look for such information.

    April 3, 2012 at 11:42 am |
  3. DrMeatwad

    I had a thought, and boy did it hurt... What do they use for an atmosphere up there? Do they mimic Earths natural atmospheres close as they can or is it mostly oxygen with added gases to limit the highly flammable nature of pure oxygen that The early launch pad demonstrated? So they claim to be 20%O-2 80%N-2, maybe those trace gases are more important than realized, or just one of them.

    February 28, 2012 at 12:10 am |
  4. Commander Shepard

    Obviously they're not using inertial dampener field technology.

    February 27, 2012 at 4:40 pm |
  5. L Ron Hubbard

    Does this mean I can get my nearsightedness fixed by taking a space flight of predetermined length?

    February 23, 2012 at 4:01 pm |
    • DrMeatwad

      No Ron, you died a while ago. Your eyes have shriveled up already.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:11 am |
  6. Tom

    Though a mission to Mars may be impossible for the time being, the TSA is ready and prepared to probe Uranus at any given time.

    February 20, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
    • DrMeatwad

      Just beware of a government dood in a tan suit putting a guy that failed to pass normal security, and gets placed on board anyhow without an ID or a passport. Check his underwear.

      February 28, 2012 at 12:15 am |
  7. DrMeatwad

    ",,, causing a significant shift in the eyesight of *male* astronauts. Doctors call it papilledema. *Female* space travelers have not been affected." – The answer is staring them right in the old kisser. Guys, can you see yourself riding along with Sally Ride all that time, and NOT getting that biological relief,,, if you catch me drift. Use uglier female astronauts and the problem is corrected.

    Seriously, build a centrifugal craft to get that artificial gravity back into their lives. This will be the only way to live out there for any long period of time,,, and your salad garden will need it as well. Someone suggested it would be terrible living on a ferris wheel ride for so long,,, but you will not even notice it when the entire craft is revolving with you. Just when you go out to the end port that is not spinning around to get a good view outside is when you might feel a little woosie.

    February 17, 2012 at 6:46 am |
  8. StillRight

    What's the matter CNN? Chicken? Don't like having your propaganda debunked?

    February 16, 2012 at 8:25 pm |
  9. Ocie

    It sounds like they'll have to run further tests before they can begin to plan future space missions that exceed six months, the period of time in which vision changes have occured and are understood. That might have something to do with the recent funding cuts on programs that include the potential for space expeditions lasting longer than six months such as the Mars missions.

    February 13, 2012 at 7:14 pm |
  10. TG

    This only provides more evidence that the earth is designed for us as humans by a Supreme Creator and not just a random planet that evolved over time to support life. Our eyesight is a marvel, in which the pupils can expand from 0.06 inch to 0.3 inch (1.5 mm to 8 mm) in diameter, resulting in a possible 30-fold increase in the amount of light entering the eye. The light then passes through the lens, which focuses it onto the retina, concentrating the light energy by a factor of 100,000 times.

    The retina, in turn, houses two types of photoreceptors—cones (approximately 6 million), which give us color vision and high resolution, and rods (120-140 million), which are more than a thousand times as sensitive as the cones and help us to see in dim light. Indeed, under optimal conditions, a rod can detect a single photon, or elementary particle of light!

    Proverbs 20:12 says: "The hearing ear and the seeing eye—Jehovah himself has made even both of them."

    February 13, 2012 at 8:42 am |
    • DrMeatwad

      TG, you and your mythical designer are seriously on your last legs. Get with the future and open up another book. I can see it now, the crazies in the mid east that have never had the international nuclear inspectors inspect their facilities will cause a near global extinction in a few years, and when the 'Lord of the Rings' books are found by someone a thousand years from now, the Kult of Frodo shall be formed aman. (sics = puns)

      February 17, 2012 at 6:53 am |
      • It's-all-about-time!

        Did a lack of wings sprouting out of a man’s back translate to mean it was not meant for man to fly? Man observed birds flying and –given time– created mechanisms to propel his wingless body through the clouds, and beyond. Lacking a thick layer of blubber and heavy fur has not translated to say man could not explore the Antarctica, or as a specie survive bitter cold winters. Is it reasonable assuming that if perchance birds motivated man to fly, the stars silently beckon man to embark on an altogether new adventure? Apart from going a few short blocks down the road in our putt-putt spaceships, apart from putting footprints the moon, or Mars, objects just down the street, the requirement for exploring the galaxies, or even an insignificant speck within our own, is that man must first attain immortality for the individual. That's the real challenge. It may be exciting thinking that man, a few centuries or so down the road, could explore the galaxy, it is an unappealing thought that all alive now must pass through death's portal, becoming non-existence and never again witnessing what is, not even randomly peeking in on the adventures of an unexplored future. Whether our opinion links to plan and purpose or an idea of zero-intelligent randomness, death is the strange enigma, the roadblock if you like to conquering space. In a survival-of-the-fittest paradigm, why the evolution of death? Why its imposition upon the individual parts of every specie? Not too long ago men built walls to protect villages. Others built battering-rams to knock the walls down. And so, nations have risen and fallen; empires come and gone, yet existence of the man-creature spans millennia. Is then earth’s intelligent life form now in possession immortality? Time will tell.

        February 18, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
      • It's-all-about-time!

        We ponder overcoming the effects of existing within a "non-gravity" realm. Why? –to place our footprint on Mars. Obviously, space travel involves one small feeble step at a time; first a footprint, then a base, then a colony. Nonetheless, the obstacle confronting earth's intelligent life-form, the roadblock preventing the specie from going where no man has gone before is that of overcoming the effect of each of its individual parts floating into a state of non-existence, this via the process called "death". Why death? If we fix the eye problem, why not the adventure of unlocking the secrets of immortality? Why not a fountain of youth? Too far fetched? If accomplished, the reality of space travel –given time– will rival the most imaginative of futuristic "science-fiction" movies. Given time, the impossible becomes our reality.

        February 25, 2012 at 8:27 pm |
  11. Saffron

    Your parents were right... it will make you go blind, if you spend six months in space...

    February 13, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  12. xrk9854

    The solution is simple: Don't send men into space.

    February 13, 2012 at 3:34 am |
  13. Malakie

    simple solution.. create a space craft that has gravity. Common sense tells us it the lack of gravity causing this. So, create gravity in space. It will be needed anyhow before mankind can even begin to imagine living in space, on ships or on other planets or stations..

    February 13, 2012 at 12:50 am |
    • It's-all-about-time!

      Car Makers today ply their trade using knowledge that we might say dwarfs what those employed designing and producing Model-T's had. The assumption here is that going a little further down the road, just a matter of time, the knowledge of how to propel man increasingly further away from the planet’s surface will reach into a new dimension of understanding. Today’s Model-T spaceship thinking seems to largely rest on round cylindrical tubes (with words and letters painted on them) spitting fire out one end. This isn’t the stuff of making century-long journeys away home. All, however, begins with baby-steps. We've now made one or two. But space travel as fictionalized by movie-makers, and even beyond the best of what they’ve dreamed, requires a dramatically new focus of "scientific thinking" with an accelerating rate of advancement. Spin a craft to create artificial gravity to solve eye-problems? While science measures the “effects” of gravity, perhaps one day it may be discovered that gravity is not what it is presently thought to be. If so, could it then be, given time, that a need to create “artificial” gravity by spinning an occupant occupied space-traveling motel is Model-T thinking? Rather than striving to create artificial gravity, perhaps the "real stuff" can simply be amplified and “beamed” like, say, an “aura of gravity”. If ever so, then it might be that whereas Newton says the apple fell, science one day will say the apple didn’t fall at all. It simply “went”. Time, master of the equation, will reveal the end game.

      March 3, 2012 at 5:12 pm |
  14. ra

    It's simple, use women.

    February 12, 2012 at 9:50 pm |
  15. Jessica

    The problem with adding shunts prior to liftoff is that how do you tell what happens to your shunt during liftoff, and what happens if you develop a complication on your long-range multi-year spaceflight? It's not like you can do surgery up there, and then what? A mission-critical member of the personnel goes blind? That doesn't seem like a good trade-off.

    The other question is, does the intracranial pressure continue to build, or does it level off? If you spend 6 months in space, come back and go from being nearsighted to far-sighted, then what happens if you spend 18 months in space? 24 months? 5 years? Do your eyes pop out of your skull? Do you develop brain damage, or risk a stroke or aneurysm from the pressure imbalance? There are some ugly implications that need to be figured out, preferably without risking the sight of more astronauts.

    But for now, if men are affected and women are not, then okay–send up an all-female crew. Problem solved. People like to use the argument all the time that men are more physically suited for combat or other environments that require a lot of physical strength and a high ratio of muscle mass. Maybe women are more suited to spaceflight. Why not? Send 'em up.

    February 12, 2012 at 6:46 pm |
    • Jessica

      After all, we're talking about going where no man has gone before, right? Guess now we know why! Nyuk nyuk.

      February 12, 2012 at 6:49 pm |
  16. Eddie

    I'm not saying I know, but from just watching people....some people can retract and extend their eyes, I've never seen it in women but I do see it in men...just from looking around.

    February 12, 2012 at 6:21 pm |
  17. FactChecker

    A problem with long manned flight? No kidding. All scientific results are coming from unmanned satelites and all money is going to manned flights. The manned efforts are not driven by science. That would be ok, except that it doesn't leave enough money for the real science.

    February 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm |
    • DrMeatwad

      Factchecker, the science in manned space flight is what shall we require to extend our lives up there. The obvious conclusion so far is to develop artificial gravity, and the simplest way is a spinning craft.

      February 17, 2012 at 6:58 am |
  18. George Dixon

    Mars has about 1/3 of Earth's gravity....(38%)

    If the eye degradation is caused by a lack of gravity, getting to Mars faster will mean less than how long one can stay before the gravitational difference asserts itself

    February 12, 2012 at 4:38 pm |
  19. Nicole

    If being in space only effects mens eyes, then getting to mars FASTER does not seem to be the logical answer, does it?? How about having an entire fleet of FEMALE ASTRONAUTS!??!?! They kind of blew it on that one and skirted around the issue there.

    February 12, 2012 at 2:59 pm |
  20. Andy

    I don't think weightless deep space missions were ever an option, you need gravity longer term. Centrifuge.

    – A

    February 12, 2012 at 2:17 pm |
  21. servr4

    Hmmmmm.

    Does not affect women?? All alone on the space station, no wife, or girlfriend around..
    Mom always said you would go blind from doing that.......

    February 12, 2012 at 1:41 pm |
  22. Edward

    Okay..at the risk of being labeled an idiot, but what if the female species on our planet are the aliens. Makes sense reading this article (okay I get it is from CNN) and why women are not affected.

    Seems a great deal more plausible than taking a rib from a man or anything else I read in much older texts!

    February 12, 2012 at 12:43 pm |
    • MaryInBoise

      As a woman, I won't label you an idiot. I'll label you someone with a sense of humor. 🙂

      February 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm |
  23. Caihlyn

    The article merely states that significant physiological changes occur to the structure of the eye when a human is in a zero gravity environment for an extended period of time. Explaining the cause of these changes, and finding acceptable ways to remedy them, are necessary if humans are to venture beyond the Earth-moon system. No opinions needed here...just some good scientific exploration.

    February 12, 2012 at 10:18 am |
  24. .

    Maybe man was just not made to go into outer space.

    February 12, 2012 at 8:15 am |
  25. TLCA

    Is NASA stupid? It doesn't effect female astronauts! Do i need to draw a picture? Find out why it happens to men. Find a treatment if you can. But it shouldn't prevent a mission to Mars. You can always send a crew of female astronauts.

    February 11, 2012 at 11:41 pm |
  26. Roger

    This sounds like a zero gee problem.
    This is not a show stopper at all:

    Here are some options:
    a) Send an all female crew.
    b) If the problem affects certain men and not others weed out the affected ones on earlier space station missions. You're probably don't want to send space rookies to Mars anyway.
    c) If the problem affects men at random (previous missions don't predict what happens on this mission), send up a group of men to orbit and select Mars crew members from the ones who aren't affected in the first 60 days, transfer them to the Mars vehicle and you're off.
    d) Use the Mars Direct approach of two joined vehicles tied with a cable that create artificial gravity by rotating around a common center.

    Read "The Case for Mars" to learn more about Mars Direct or google it.

    February 11, 2012 at 10:41 pm |
  27. Twindorn

    The spacecraft would get to Mars much faster if they were teflon coated.
    It wouldn't require three years of travel time; it might only take weeks.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:51 pm |
    • .

      Yeah, and if you went close to the sun you could fry an egg on the fuselage and it wouldn't stick.

      And the cleanup would be much easier.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:16 am |
  28. Carl, Secaucus, NJ

    Before we take long-duration trips into space, such as to Mars, wouldn't it be better to design a spaceship with a rotating portion to give the astronauts at least some gravity? A third of Earth's gravity would be fine, since that's what Mars has, anyway. Either that, or use a method of propulsion that will get them there faster, such as a nuclear reactor. That may sound dangerous, but I think we have tested a few satellites with small reactors before. And anyway, the less time the voyage takes, the less time there is for other things to go wrong, so it may reduce the danger.

    February 11, 2012 at 7:49 pm |
    • .

      How 'bout we just solve our problems here on Earth first?

      February 12, 2012 at 8:17 am |
  29. Fred Myers

    Whoever wrote this article had better learn the difference between "optic nerve" and "optic disk." It's the back of the eye that is being distorted, causing vision changes because the distance is now different from the focal length of the eye. The video makes this clear. It has nothing to do with changes in the optic nerve. Look up "papilledema" on Wikipedia.

    February 11, 2012 at 6:34 pm |
  30. It's-all-about-time!

    Restraints against fulfilling the imagined nearly always disappear; the insurmountable is surmounted, the impossible becomes possible. Results of an endeavor involve thought, willpower, resource, and time, with time being the foundation of everything. In two parallel (male and female) states of composition, an intelligence inhabiting earth continually reenergize itself; reproducing itself that is across time as a flowing stream of type and likeness replications of a prior original. This argues that the intelligence presently inhabiting earth is in possession of the key unlocking immortality. So, will immortality also be bestowed upon each individual part of the whole? Is there a fountain of eternal youth ahead? If so, the suggestion here would be that given an unmeasured or immeasurable amount of time, the totality of the universe, including time itself, becomes a playground for what heretofore has been an earth-bound intelligence. Based upon ideas afloat today, it could be asked; if a lifeless speck (earth) adrift in a seemingly ever-expanding universe whose dimensions excite the most brilliant of minds, could by random chance create its own intelligence and likewise create a reproductive process to thereby perpetuate its own self-awareness, then the universe, even in absence of a plan, is preparing to achieve the same. Or, perhaps events unfolding on earth equate to page one of a book that will never have a last page. This argues that time and chance is the true genius of the universe, its power of thought; clay in the hands of a non-existing potter who, without rhyme or reason, shapes and molds all that is, and will ever become, maybe even time itself. From this view it is less a matter of gravitational pull or spinning spacecraft, but simply a matter of time. If it can be imagined, it will be done –eventually. However, there remains an unavoidable question. Once there were bows and arrows. Now the arrows are fire-breathing high-flying cylinders with city-destroying tips on one end. Once arrows were transported about in quivers, but now population-destroying nuclear devices move about in suitcases. Does mankind have enough time to put a footprint on Mars? Time will tell.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:41 pm |
    • .

      You have too much time on your hands.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  31. Martin

    Guess this means women and only young men will be the ones doing long range space exploration.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:25 pm |
    • .

      Cougars in space.

      Where do I sign up?

      February 12, 2012 at 8:18 am |
  32. Nat

    Deep space in question??? Why? Easy answer: Send only women.

    February 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm |
  33. norskenr

    Much ado about nothing. The comments about errors in describing far- vs. nearsightedness are unfounded. The authors don't need to write better but a number of folks need to read for content better.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:53 pm |
  34. jdoe

    Their prescription may change drastically, possibly due to zero-gravity, but where is the evidence that they might go blind? The bigger threat to space travel is cosmic rays, which go through everything can damage living cells, electronics, etc.

    February 11, 2012 at 3:31 pm |
  35. Elizabeth

    This happened suddenly to me. I had better than 20/20 vision, then suddenly not within one year. I also had taken a medicine that caused sudden menopause (Lupron, a GNRh agonist, meaning a drug that makes the pituitary produce more reproductive stimulating hormone, and then no hormone), and after that drug my vision was exactly as this article describes. Presbyopia (aging), or lack of the reproductive hormones, is the cause, but maybe this NASA research also applies to why the eyes would suddenly change after 50: maybe it is always caused by intercranial pressure. That might also explain a higher instance of headaches too. It might be necessary to give either 1. hormone treatments to see if that would change the pressures, or 2. provide some sort of centrifugal gravity in long-term spaceships, like the artificial gravity in the movie 2001. The gravity would be much more costly (weight in spaceship, energy expended), but the hormones should be investigated now. In men it might be some of the testosterones, and I'll bet not enough women in the program has led them to believe that it doesn't happen to women; it most probably does to many women.

    The only alternative is to think that every person that hits their fifties actually is in free-fall, or does space walks and doesn't know it. It has to be hormonal, and probably could be treated that way. I would think that changing gravitational pressure would affect the endocrine systems.

    February 11, 2012 at 2:04 pm |
  36. tare

    Could someone remind why we need astronauts and what it was that they have ever done that amounts to anything significant?

    February 11, 2012 at 2:01 pm |
    • Elizabeth

      High-speed anything, computers, many other inventions. It isn't just the people in the sky, but the entire space program that has done the inventions. And this current research would have a medical application on earth.

      February 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm |
    • Martin

      There is a long long list of technologies that have been developed from space flight, far too long to list. Composite materials, communications advances, medical advances, many others. Of course since that development process is often transparent to people not involved in the space program or sciences that people often remain ignorant of the fact.

      February 11, 2012 at 5:28 pm |
    • .

      Don't forget the frisbee.

      February 12, 2012 at 8:19 am |
  37. Thoughts

    This article supports the suggestion that even short duration human spaceflight is beyond our capabilities now and in the future. Short duration spaceflight cannot be overstated when compared to the time required for humans to reach another hospitable planet or any planet beyond our own very small solar system. NASA has reorganized their priorities concerning Mars as of yesterday per their news briefs. Now today, this particular article appears in support of their decisions. Furthermore, nothing has changed in the world of science. The theory of intelligent extraterrestrial life cannot be answered, and there exists the possibility that it will never be answered as our own species' vulnerabilities provide possible clues as to why. This might be the wake up call NASA requires for continued success – visit the moon, mars, as far as you can go, but forget about leaving your crib.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:22 pm |
  38. blindasabat

    i've been near-sighted since i was about 7 years old. well into my fifties now and now and have needed reading glasses since i was about 45. the reason near-sighted and far-sighted are confusing is that the descirption of the affliction actually describes what is NOT wrong with your vision. i always have to think an extra second or two when i hear it. even after all these years

    February 11, 2012 at 1:16 pm |
  39. Mike_88

    This guy needs some bikram yoga. Postures Dhanurasana and Ustrasana really pull the optical nerve of the eyeballs straight from the spine. This helps balance out the eyeball to maintain good vision and would definitely pull the back of the eyeball to a rounder shape.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:14 pm |
  40. Gormley

    When is NASA (used to work there) going to be honest about the long-term effect of radiation and cosmic rays on the entire body? If you fly on an airplane from coast-to-coast, you pick up the rough radiation equivalent of a chest x-ray. Space is MUCH uglier. And a 3-year voyage to Mars would probably yield enough radiation that the returning astronaut(s) wouldn't live long after their return. I'm afraid we're stuck here on Earth for all practical purposes. Unmanned, robotic missions to Mars should be able to yield us all the information we need from Mars. ...or is it simply the footprints in the dust we want to brag about?

    February 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  41. GreyGeek

    It looks like we won't be using floating space stations for long duration missions any more. We'll have to start spinning them at a speed which will create the eqivilent of 1G of gravity.

    February 11, 2012 at 1:02 pm |
  42. 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 |
  43. 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 |
  44. 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 |
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