Living in space is the ultimate science fiction dream. It’s also a dream that many brave men and women have been able to realize, thanks to the many shuttle and space station missions of various space agencies.
However, it’s easy to forget that the time they spend in space is not all spacewalks and scientific experiments. During their missions, astronauts have to adjust to a very (very) different way of life.
10 : Physical Changes
The human body starts to behave very strangely in the microgravity of space. The spine, free from Earth’s constant pull, immediately starts to straighten out. This can add up to 5.72 centimeters (2.25 in) to the person’s height. The internal organs shift upward inside the torso, which decreases the waist measurement by several inches. The cardiovascular system alters the person’s appearance even further. Once gravity is removed, the powerful leg muscles (that push the blood up against gravity) start forcing blood and fluids in the upper body. This new, even fluid distribution buffs up the torso considerably, while making the leg girth considerably smaller. NASA jokingly calls this phenomenon “chicken legs.” Essentially, a normal human being turns into a cartoon strongman with tiny stick legs, small waist and a disproportionately large upper body. Even the facial features turn cartoonish, as the blood flow in the upper body will give the person a puffy, swollen face.
All of this may sound disturbing, but it is actually fairly harmless.