Astronauts’ brains start suffering damage after being in outer space for more than six months, according to studies. This is why space crews are recommended to wait for at least three years before returning to space.
Scientists found an expansion or enlargement in the ventricles that contain cerebrospinal fluid in astronauts who were sent for more than six months outside of our planet. This conclusion was made after conducting a comparative study of brain scans from 30 astronauts. The first scans were taken before their mission, and another set of 30 scans was done after their return to planet Earth.
Applied Physiology and Kinesiology Professor at the University of Florida, Rachael Seidler, explained that when astronauts are in space, all of their bodily fluids go to the upper part of the body and push the brain against the skull, causing the ventricles to expand. As a result, it is necessary to take, at least a three-year break for them to compress their brains again and fully recover.
The study confirms that the enlargement of these cerebral cavities is proportional to the time that the cosmonauts are in space, although the greatest brain expansion is more noticeable between those who traveled from two weeks to six months, as there are no more cases of brain expansion for astronauts who have traveled for more than a year.
The Scientific Reports Magazine published a study on Thursday that reveals these findings, as a result of NASA and its partners’ plan to continue having a sustained human presence on the Moon with their “Artemis” program, with the goal to send humans to other planets, such as Mars.