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NASA to launch unprecedented twin Astronaut study

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NASA has announced that former astronaut Mark Kelly* and his twin brother astronaut Scott Kelly have been enlisted to participate in 10 different investigations examining how “two people with the same genetics react to molecular, physiological and psychological effects while in two different environments, and how they are influenced by spaceflight in a continuous effort to reduce the health impacts of human space exploration.”

According to Craig Kundrot, deputy chief scientist of the space agency’s Human Research Program Scott Kelly will remain aboard the International Space Station for one year, beginning March 2015, while his identical twin brother, Mark will remain on Earth.

“The study will focus in part on the comparison of blood samples collected from Scott and Mark at regular intervals before, during and after the one-year mission. Physiological and psychological testing also will be conducted on the brothers before, during and after the mission,” stated Kundrot.

The Human Research Program regularly assesses crew health and performance during spaceflight to evaluate associated risks, and develop strategies to monitor and mitigate these risks. Their research frequently has helped to advance health care for people on Earth as well as in space. It should also be noted that they are teaming up with the Space Biomedical Research Program for this project. The SBRP will provide genetic counseling and assist in managing the studies.

* Mark Kelly is the husband of former US Representative Gabrielle Giffords.

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