Why Canada conducts science experiments in space

Backgrounder

Space exploration is an ambitious and risky undertaking, particularly for human health. As soon as astronauts arrive in space, they are prone to feeling dizzy, disoriented and nauseous, and they start losing bone mass.

The longer the mission, the more severe the impact: muscles shrink, arteries lose their elasticity, the immune system becomes weaker, and reflexes and coordination diminish. Greater exposure to radiation can cause cataracts and increase the risk of cancer. The challenges of living in an isolated, confined and extreme environment can also affect astronauts' psychological health.

Canadian researchers are helping us better understand and offset the harmful effects of space on the human body.

Destination: deep space

Canada has committed to participating in international space exploration efforts that aim to propel humanity further into the solar system. Keeping astronauts safe and healthy during these long missions, especially the voyage to Mars, will be critical. As we move closer to these ambitious missions, Canadian health research in space is increasingly important.

Space research can mitigate the impacts of sedentary living and aging

Even though this research occurs in space, the findings are also applied on Earth. Studying the human body in space for six months gives us data that would take years to gather on Earth.

The physical symptoms observed among astronauts on a mission are similar to accelerated aging and health problems experienced by sedentary populations.

Canadian experiments performed in space have produced findings that can help people suffering from balance problems, such as seniors; osteoporosis; cardiovascular disorders; and Type 2 diabetes.

This research will also teach us more about the psychological and psychosocial effects that spacefarers are likely to experience on extended space missions, and that information could be applied to people living in remote and confined environments (e.g., cargo ships) or dangerous environments (e.g., military deployments).


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