Tim Peake: Hello, this is Tim Peake and welcome on board the International Space Station!
Here in space, our bodies go through an accelerated form of ageing. Thankfully, most of the side effects are reversible when we return to Earth. This makes space the perfect place to study the effects of ageing and immobility.
One of the experiments on board right now is a Canadian Space Agency study called MARROW, which is led by Dr. Guy Trudel and Dr. Odette Laneuville of the University of Ottawa. MARROW is designed to help understand how microgravity affects our bone marrow.
When we are sedentary—and there are fewer forces acting on our bones, like up here in space—our bone marrow produces more fat cells and less red blood cells. It also affects how our white blood cells function. This can lead to anemia, susceptibility to infections and increased sensitivity to radiation.
MARROW is monitoring the bone marrow of 10 astronauts using magnetic resonance images, MRI, taken before and after their six-month stay in space, as well as breath and blood samples taken before, during and after their flight.
MARROW will give scientists a better understanding of how fat and blood cells interact in our bone marrow. This knowledge could help to protect astronauts in space, to combat the effects of physical inactivity on Earth, and to benefit bedridden patients or people with reduced mobility and seniors.