(ORDO NEWS) — An international team of researchers conducted a long-term experiment aboard the International Space Station to test the effects of space radiation on mouse embryonic stem cells.
Its results will help scientists evaluate the safety and risks associated with human exposure to space radiation during future space flights. The team published their findings in Heliyon magazine.
In their study, the scientists quantified the biological effect of cosmic radiation. They launched frozen mouse embryonic stem cells to the International Space Station and exposed them to space radiation for four years.
The results of the experiment showed that the actual biological effect of cosmic radiation is consistent with earlier predictions based on physical measurements of cosmic radiation.
Space radiation remains a limiting factor for manned space exploration. Scientists are conducting intensive research to measure the physical doses of space radiation in order to better understand its effects on the human body.
Since most studies so far have been conducted on Earth and not in space, their results have been questionable because the actual space environment cannot be accurately reproduced on Earth.
“Our study aims to address the shortcomings of previous experiments by making a direct quantitative measurement of the biological effects of space radiation on the ISS and comparing this real biological effect with physical estimates in ground-based experiments,” said Takashi Morita, a professor at Osaka Capital University.
“The results obtained contribute to the reduction of uncertainty in risk assessments associated with human spaceflight.”
The study was long: seven years of work before launch, four years of work after launch, and five years of analysis. Scientists hope to take their research one step further.
“For future work, we are considering using human embryonic stem cells rather than mouse embryonic stem cells, given that human cells are much better suited for human risk assessment, and it will be easier to analyze their chromosomal aberrations,” said Professor Morita.
Future research may also include launching individual mice or other experimental animals to analyze their chromosome aberrations in space.
“Such experiments in deep space can further reduce the uncertainty in risk assessments of long-term human travel and space stay,” Professor Morita concluded.
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