According to a recent research, astronauts that spend a lot of time in space have thinner skin compared to other people. A team of scientists wanted to find out why this is happening and they’ve conducted a study to try and figure out why skin gets thinner in space.
Over the years, many astronauts who have been spending time in space, have suffered skin problems and wanted to know what caused it. That’s why NASA scientists in collaboration with the European Space Agency have asked a team of professors from the Department of Biophotonics and Laser Technology at Saarland University led by Karsten Koenig to study what happens to human skin during long space journeys.
The scientists started to test the astronauts before they left for space and after they returned from their travel. They used multiphoton tomography to accurately image how skin structure reacts during a space mission. According to them, this imaging technology is similar to a real tissue biopsy, providing detailed information that helps the researchers learn more about the skin layers after spending time in space.
The team has analyzed skin tissue from three astronauts: Alexander Gerst, Samantha Cristoforetti and Luca Parmitano. After they underwent several tests, the researchers found that the morphology of the skin suffers serious changes during space travel.
According to Professor Koenig, the leader of the research team, the tests results showed that the skin of the astronauts produced a higher level of collagen while being in space. This means that they suddenly had more collagen in their skin. Koenig said there appeared to be some kind of anti-aging effect in the lower layer of the skin known as the dermis. Also, the tests revealed that the epidermis was shrinking, especially in the region of the living cells. The scientists said that the epidermis got thinner by almost 20% than it usually is, concluding that skin gets thinner in space.
However, because the scientists only examined the skin layers of three astronauts, they couldn’t tell what causes the skin to thin while in space. The researchers added that the epidermis is the part of the skin that “lives” and provides it with cells to create the surfaces above it. They believe it would be better to stop the epidermis from thinning during long missions in space.
Thinner skin is more susceptible to radiation and the risk of developing cancer is higher, according to the experts.
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