This illustration shows NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft carrying the Perseverance rover as it approaches Mars.
This illustration shows NASA’s Mars 2020 spacecraft carrying the Perseverance rover as it approaches Mars.

Humans In Space with Astronaut Leland Melvin and Dr. Sheyna Gifford

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About This Episode

Are human bodies good for space? On this episode, Neil deGrasse Tyson and co-hosts Chuck Nice and Gary O’Reilly discover the effects of space on the human body and if we are ready for long-haul missions with astronaut and former NFL player Leland Melvin and space doc, Dr. Sheyna Gifford. 

First, we talk to Leland about what it is like to prepare for space. How do you combat the effects of microgravity before going up? We draw parallels between his astronaut days and his time in the NFL. Was Sunita Williams’ marathon in space cheating or actually harder? Is there such a thing as rocket lag? Learn about the exercise regiments of astronauts. What’s harder: Preparing for space or recovering from space? Find out why so many astronauts need glasses after their trips. 

Sheyna tells us about her year on virtual Mars. What do you do on fake Mars? Why run these types of simulations? She gives us the doctor’s perspective on the astronaut regimen and what more we can do to mitigate osteoporosis and other ailments in space. What is a parastronaut? Learn about the AstroAccess mission and how Earth-disabled people react to microgravity. Is the standard body shape not the best for space? 

We learn about reacclimation and some things you might not know about astronauts getting used to Earth again. How would we overcome the physiological effects of long trips like the one to Mars? How does your immune system suffer in space? Does the ISS need a thorough cleaning? If we don’t solve these problems are humans never going to be able to endure long term space travel? All that and find out why and where space needs you. 

Thanks to our Patrons John Moehrke, Scott Williams, Mike Trujillo, Josue Diaz, Walter Flaat, Semyon Torfason, Craig Smart, Elissa DiPierro,, and Nic Stock for supporting us this week.

NOTE: StarTalk+ Patrons can watch or listen to this entire episode commercial-free.


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