[Source: University of Arizona Communications] – Astronauts are known to have a higher risk of getting sick compared to their Earth-bound peers. The stresses that go with weightlessness, confined crew quarters, being away from family and friends and a busy work schedule – all the while not getting enough sleep – are known to wreak havoc on the immune system.
A research group led by immunobiologist Ty Lebsack at the University of Arizona has discovered that spaceflight changes the activity of genes controlling immune and stress response, perhaps leading to more sickness.
Between spaceflight affecting a crew’s susceptibility to infections and previous observations of sickness-causing microbes thriving in a near-zero gravity environment, long journeys to far-away destinations such as Mars pose a big challenge to manned space missions.
For more information: Immune System Compromised During Spaceflight, Study Finds