Long-term habitation on another planet or in a travelling spaceship might pose a problem to human evolution because space is devoid of the germs that keep our immune systems firing, and without regular exercise, the body’s defences could atrophy or even disappear over many generations. Scientists will have to figure out exactly what happens to the immune system when an astronaut goes into space before the travellers go on any far-reaching missions. Those missions could be just beyond the horizon as leaders like SpaceX CEO Elon Musk push for exploration and colonisation of other planets, space agencies learn how to farm in micro-gravity and more advances are made in rocket technology.
They are getting closer to an answer all the time. NASA has a team of immunologists studying how astronaut immune systems react while the crew stays aboard the International Space Station, in orbit around Earth. Their project is called Functional Immune and scientists already have observed changes taking place in that microgravity environment.
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