Our immune system works unnoticed to protect the body, but even subtle changes in the immune system might be linked to the onset of illness. During space travel, factors such as radiation, microgravity, stress, and altered sleep cycles could all affect astronaut immune systems.
A new NASA study will investigate the immune system changes that occur in International Space Station (ISS) astronauts. Scientists hope that understanding these immune system changes will help pinpoint the onset of illness, and suggest monitoring strategies, or treatments, that can boost the immune system and prevent full-blown infections and diseases, not just in space, but here on Earth as well.
Bottom line: Video from NASA about studies looking at the effects of space travel on the human body’s immune system.
Eleanor Imster has helped write and edit EarthSky since 1995. She was an integral part of the award-winning EarthSky radio series almost since it began until it ended in 2013. Today, as Lead Editor at EarthSky.org, she helps present the science and nature stories and photos you enjoy. She also serves as one of the voices of EarthSky on social media platforms including Facebook, Twitter and G+. She and her husband live in Tennessee and have two grown sons.