Despite the blessings of weighing less than a feather while treking through the final frontier, scientists have confirmed the side effects of micro gravity which can do more damage than weakening ones immune system.

Fitts, Chair and Professor of Biological Sciences at Marquette, believes if astronauts were to travel to Mars today their ability to perform work would be compromised and, with the most affected muscles such as the calf, the decline could approach 50%. Crew members would fatigue more rapidly and have difficulty performing even routine work in a space suit. Even more dangerous would be their return to Earth, where they’d be physically incapable of evacuating quickly in case of an emergency landing.

The study – the first cellular analysis of the effects of long duration space flighton human muscle – took calf biopsies of nine astronauts and cosmonauts before and immediately following 180 days on the International Space Station (ISS). The findings show substantial loss of fibre mass, force and power in this muscle group. Unfortunately starting the journey in better physical condition did not help. Ironically, one of the study’s findings was that crew members who began with the biggest muscles also showed the greatest decline. (

Muscles are not the only thing that deteriorates, as bones also weaken, in spite of the intense and vigorous exercise by astronauts.

While scientists could resort to special dieting to counter bone loss, humanity will need to come up with more innovative ways at preserver our muscle mass (outside of electrical shocks that is).

Despite our best laid plans, Mars is currently too far away to be reached safely by conventional rockets.

We may have to wait until VASIMR engines become a reality before we can dream of creating crimson foot prints in the near future.

(Image Credit: ADAM via MedlinePlus)

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