Science News

Astronaut Skin Thins In Space

Astronaut In Space

Researchers employing femtosecond lasers in order to analyze the skin of astronauts have found that human skin thins in space.

The researchers analyzed the skin of three astronauts before and after their missions on the International Space Station (ISS) in an attempt to better understand the impact inhabiting space has on the human body.

After just six months in space, the epidermis of the astronauts studied was up to 20 percent thinner, the Daily Mail reported.

The three astronauts analyzed included Germany’s Alexander Gerst and Italy’s Samantha Cristoforetti and Luca Parmitano.

Professor Karsten Koenig of the Saarland University was commissioned by NASA and the ESA to scan the skin of the aforementioned astronauts as part of the ESA’s Skin B project.

Koenig’s team employed femtosecond laser pulses in order to obtain signals from the skin conveying fluorescence and harmonic generation. Koenig informed Reuters that the results were “interesting” and that it seems as if “there is a strong production of collagen; so suddenly these astronauts have more collagen” which means that “there is some sort of anti-aging effect” on the skin, but at the same time, the epidermis is shrinking, so the skin is getting thinner.

So far we’ve got interesting results from three astronauts. It seems that there is a strong production of collagen; so suddenly these astronauts have more collagen. It means there is some sort of anti-aging effect, at least in the dermis – the lower part of the skin. And we found that the epidermis, in particular the part of the living cells, that this epidermis is shrinking, so the skin gets thinner

As for an explanation of the results of the skin scans, Professor Koenig indicated to Reuters that there is presently “no explanation.”

We’ve seen the epidermis get thinner by nearly 20 percent. And so far we have no explanation. But this happened within six months; the question is if you go to Mars they need one or two years and we don’t know yet – for sure it’s not so good if the epidermis gets thinner and thinner

In other news, a drug normally administered to treat rheumatoid arthritis has successfully restored the color of a vitiligo patient’s skin.

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