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Astronaut's DNA no longer matches his twin, NASA study finds

16 March 2018

Spending time in space permanently changes your genes, a shock new Nasa study has revealed.

The space agency said in a statement, 'Mark and Scott Kelly are still identical twins.'s Mara Montalbano ( has more.

They didn't just test his genes - Kelly appears to be no less intelligent relative to his brother after a year in space, though he is physically a bit slower and less accurate, possibly because he had to readjust to Earth's gravity.

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Though Scott Kelly's genetic expression changed, he and Mark are still identical.

Scott Kelly's change proposes longer-term alterations identified with no less than five natural pathways and capacities and this one of a kind report were discharged at the 2018 Investigator's Workshop for NASA's Human Research Program in January. Changes in gene expression are how the human body reacts to the environment.

Nasa found that while 93 per cent of Kelly's genes returned to normal shortly after returning home, seven per cent were permanently altered. Scott's metabolites, which are necessary for maintaining life, cytokines, which are secreted by immune system cells, and proteins, which are the engines within each cell, all changed. First, there was a significant increase in average length while he was in space, and then there was a decrease in length within about 48 hours of his landing on Earth that stabilized to almost preflight levels.

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Kelly's one-year mission is a scientific stepping stone to a planned three-year mission to Mars, NASA said.

Some changes included "cell-free" DNA in the blood, and changes in the telomeres, caps on the end of chromosomes which are involved in the ageing process. Last March, Scott was two inches taller when he returned from his mission than he had been when he left.

What they found is that spaceflight creates oxygen-deprivation stress, increased inflammation throughout the body, and facilitated dramatic nutrient shifts that affect genes directly.

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Previous studies showed the effect on the body after the standard-duration six-month missions aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronaut's DNA no longer matches his twin, NASA study finds