A major problem for astronauts was detected. And it has to do with their health. It has been confirmed that bone mass is lost in space. To such an extent that it takes many years to recover it once they return. It could be a “major concern” for future missions to Mars.
Earlier research evidenced that. Between 1 and 2% bone density was lost for every month in space. The lack of gravity takes pressure off the legs when standing and walking.
A new study looked at how astronauts recover upon return. They scanned ankles and wrists of 17 astronauts. The bone density lost is equivalent to what they would lose in several decades on Earth. Study co-author Steven Boyd, of the Canadian University of Calgary, said.
Astronauts who participated in the longest missions take longer to recover. “The longer you spend in space, the more bone you lose,” Boyd said.
He added that the findings cause “great concern” for plans for future Mars missions. They could see astronauts spending years in space.
A modeling study conducted in 2020 envisioned a three-year spaceflight to Mars. In this, 33% of astronauts would be at risk of osteoporosis. The study was published in Scientific Reports. In addition, he showed how spaceflight alters the structure of the bones themselves.
How to deal with it
“When we come back to Earth, we thicken what’s left. However we don’t actually create new rods,” the researcher pointed out.
According to the study, some exercises are better at retaining bone mass than others. Dead weight lifting was found to be significantly more effective than running or cycling. What does this suggest to us? That more heavy lower body exercise should be planned for the future.