Space travel and liver damage: Mouse astronauts to the rescue!
Astronauts certainly have difficult jobs. Unfortunately, challenges and hazards associated with this profession can include health issues. Being in a weightless environment for extended periods of time can cause muscle atrophy, which in turn causes proteins to break down into amino acids. Scientists were worried that this could cause liver damage, and recently published research confirms their fears.
Several years ago, mice were sent into space on the Atlantis space shuttle to help understand more about the health issues associated with space travel. Upon their return from a 13 1/2 day flight, these astronaut mice were able to give researchers some helpful information. Not only did this short period of space travel cause a reduction in muscle mass, but beginning stages of liver damage were noted.
There really isn’t an easy way to study the effects of space travel on the body, so these mouse astronauts have really been able to provide researchers with important information. As space travel becomes more adventurous, and astronauts may be in space for longer periods of time, it’s important for scientists to know what they’re up against. Read more about it here.