The International Space Station (ISS) is a bastion for scientific discovery. Astronauts aboard the ISS generally perform upwards of 200 experiments in their six month stays. Now, a pair of Astronauts will not only perform experiments on the ISS, they will also be part of several experiments. Astronaut Scott Kelly and Roscosmos’ Mikhail Kornienko will spend a full year hurtling through space to better understand how this time away from our home rock really affects the human body.
During their year-long trip, Kelly and Kornienko will be monitored for any differences in physical and mental faculties including vision, metabolism, physical performance, mental health, microbes living in their bodies, and others. The obvious near-term goal is to find out how time spent in space will affect humans as we eventually work our way towards Mars. Any trip outside of our immediate celestial area – ISS, the Moon – will require significantly longer stays in the void of space. These experiments will hopefully help determine what, if any, adjustments need to be made in order to ensure an Astronaut’s safety for this journey.
If that weren’t enough, Scott Kelly will also take part in a separate set of experiments. Kelly is in the unique position to have a twin brother – Mark Kelly – who is also an Astronaut. Mark Kelly will remain on Earth, and the two will undergo tests and whatnot to see how twins in different environments adapt and change over the span of a year.
Kelly and Kornienko will begin their year-long stay in March.
In other ISS news, famed English singer Sarah Brightman will become the first professional singer (Sorry Chris Hadfield, we love your singing but it’s not exactly your profession) to spend time on the ISS. Brightman is best known for starring in The Phantom of the Opera. Brightman will be the eighth tourist aboard the station after paying $52 Million for her ten day trip. She must, however, pass a physical before being allowed to head to the station. If all goes according to plan, Brightman will arrive at the ISS in October. She’ll be able to say hi to Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko while she is up there, though there’s no word on whether or not she’ll take part in any experiments during her stay.