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NASA/Robert Markowitz

How Scott Kelly’s year in space could prepare us for a mission to Mars

Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to Earth last night after spending nearly a year on the International Space Station. In addition to giving us awe-inspiring views of our planet, Kelly is providing researchers at NASA with a unique opportunity to study the long-term effects of life in zero-gravity. They’ll learn even more because his identical twin brother Mark (left) has remained on Earth the whole time. Since the brothers’ genetics are nearly identical, researchers will be better able to isolate the effects of a year in space, according to the Los Angeles Times.  So the Kelly twins have been subjected to identical experiments—dealing with bodily fluids, psychology, and even changes to DNA—that will help reveal precisely what happens to the human body in space.  And NASA needs all the information it can get, if it wants to prepare humans for the longer space journeys required for Mars missions.

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