More on Scott Kelly

Scott Kelly is two inches taller than when he left earth a year ago. That is all.

NASA scientists already knew that Kelly would walk a little taller when he emerged from the Soyuz capsule. But he’ll have changed in other, less obvious ways, too, and that’s the whole point of his record-breaking mission. Kelly and Russian cosmonaut Mikhail Kornienko spent 342 days on the space station to help scientists measure the effects of long-term spaceflight on the human body.

OK, so I lied. That’s not all. One of the purposes of the trip was, as noted above, to study the effect of long-term spaceflight. Kelly’s twin brother submitted himself to the same battery of tests to help us better understand what happens to a person in space versus staying on earth.

The hope is that scientists can come up with a plan for protecting the men and women who might eventually journey to Mars. It’s likely that the flight to our closest neighboring world will take about nine months each way. Once a crew touches down on the sandy surface, NASA will want them to stay awhile. After all, it would be a shame to spend 18 months in a tin can for a day or two on the surface of a new planet. So it seems likely that the first Mars mission will be a multi-year commitment.

Science Books in Six Words

From American Scientist magazine comes coverage of the Twitter hashtag #SciBooksIn6. A couple of highlights:

“Investigating extraterrestrial geology, many meteorites needed.” —Nicole Lunning

35 Seasons of U.S. Antarctic Meteorites (1976-2010): A Pictorial Guide to the Collection, eds. Kevin Righter, Catherine Corrigan, Timothy McCoy, and Ralph Harvey

“Chemistry plus recipes: Explore savory taste.”—Sandra J. Ackerman

Umami: Unlocking the Secrets of the Fifth Taste, by Ole G. Mouritsen and Klavs Styrbæk

Welcome Home, Scott Kelly!

Red-AuroraAfter roughly a year in space, American astronaut Scott Kelly has returned to earth. Respected, revered, loved, or whatever other adjective you want to grant him, Kelly is regarded positively by many for many things. Some activities he did while in space which contribute to his positive image:

NASA scientists are now studying the effects of space on astronauts by comparing Kelly to his twin, Mark. Hopefully this will help identify ways to better survive space for extended trips such as a trip to Mars.

Following Robots

A recent study to find out if people would follow a robot or take an exit they can see offered a surprising result. In an emergency, it appears likely people would follow a robot over taking an obvious exit, even if the robot seems to malfunction.

In the emergency study, Robinette’s team used a modified Pioneer P3-AT, a robot that looks like a small bin with wheels and has lit-up foam arms to point. Each participant would individually follow the robot along a hallway until it pointed to the room they were to enter. They would then fill in a survey to rate the robot’s navigation skills and read a magazine article. The emergency was simulated with artificial smoke and a First Alert smoke detector.

A total of 26 of the 30 participants chose to follow the robot during the emergency. Of the remaining four, two were thrown out of the study for unrelated reasons, and the other two never left the room.