NASA Video: A Gut Feeling

While Scott Kelly was living aboard the International Space Station for a whole year (March 2015 to 2016), he performed or was part of over 400 experiments. Many of those performed on his body will be researched for years to come, including data on his gut bacteria. Photo Credit: NASA

While Scott Kelly was living aboard the International Space Station for a whole year (March 2015 to 2016), he performed or was part of over 400 experiments. Many of those performed on his body will be researched for years to come, including data on his gut bacteria. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA uploaded a pretty neat video about understanding gut bacteria. The video starts by stating there are 3 pounds of bacteria in the human gut. Wow! Dr. Fred Turek of Northwestern Universities Center for Sleep and Circadian Biology is studying that bacteria in astronauts on the International Space Station.

When Scott Kelly went to live in the orbital complex for a whole year, one of areas scientists were studying was the bacteria inside Kelly's gut and how they changed (or didn't) over the yearlong stay in microgravity.

Scientists want to know what the effect the space environment has on the development of the bacteria. They want to see if certain bacteria out-compete others to upset the balance.

If it turns out there were no changes in the microbiome of Kelly's gut, then a human mission to Mars would likely also not produce any major changes. However, if there are changes – say one bacteria gets stronger than another and puts the ecosystem out of balance then ways to counteract the changes will have to be developed.

Video courtesy of NASA Johnson

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Derek Richardson

I am a space geek who loves to write about space.

My passion for space ignited when I watched space shuttle Discovery leap to space on October 29, 1998. Today, this fervor has accelerated toward orbit and shows no signs of slowing down. After dabbling in math and engineering courses in college, I soon realized that my true calling was communicating to others about space exploration and spreading that passion.

Currently, I am a senior at Washburn University studying Mass Media with an emphasis in contemporary journalism. In addition to running Orbital Velocity, I write for the Washburn Review and am the Managing Editor for SpaceFlight Insider.