Three days in space were enough to change four astronauts’ bodies and minds

In an image provided by the company, Jared Isaacman, left, and Hayley Arceneaux, participate in SpaceX's Inspiration4 mission in September 2021. The Inspiration4 crew, who spent only three days off Earth, experienced physical and mental changes that included modest declines in cognitive tests, stressed immune systems and genetic changes within their cells. [SpaceX via The New York Times]

Space changes you, even during short trips off the planet.

Four people who spent three days off Earth in September 2021 experienced physical and mental changes that included modest declines in cognitive tests, stressed immune systems and genetic changes within their cells, scientists report in a package of papers published Tuesday in the journal Nature and several other related journals.

Almost all of what changed in the astronauts returned to normal after they splashed down on Earth. None of the alterations appeared to pose a showstopping caution for future space travelers. But the results also highlighted how little medical researchers know.

Christopher Mason, a professor of genomics, physiology and biophysics at Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City and one of the leaders of the research, called the collection of papers and data "the most in-depth...

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