Astronauts are at risk of severe anemia if they go into space.
REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, OTTAWA — Humans are planning to travel to Mars. However, according to new research, this journey will be especially challenging because space travel destroys red blood cells.
Researchers say even space tourists lining up for short trips may have to stay home if they are at risk of developing anemia or a lack of red blood cells.
Reported from The Sydney Morning Herald, Monday (17/1/2022), astronauts are known to have space anemia, but until now, it was considered temporary. One NASA study called it a “15-day illness”.
“But in fact, anemia is the main effect of going to space,” said Dr Guy Trudel of the University of Ottawa, who led the study of 14 astronauts funded by the Canadian Space Agency.
Doctors attribute it to the destruction of red blood cells or hemolysis, which results from the movement of fluids when the astronaut’s body is in a weightless environment and when it returns to gravity.
“As long as you’re in space, you destroy more blood cells than you make,” Trudel said.
Normally, the body destroys and replaces nearly two million red blood cells per second. Trudel’s team found the astronauts’ bodies destroyed three million red blood cells per second during their six-month mission.
“We thought we knew about space anemia, and we don’t,” Trudel said.