Spaced Out Physiology
By Amy Shira Teitel
Illustrated by Sabine Deviche
show/hide words to know
- Astronaut: a man or woman whose job it is to fly in space. Astronauts are usually really good at math and science, and aren't scared of sitting on top of rockets.
- Gravity: the attraction of one body to another. Gravity gives objects weight and causes them to fall to the ground if dropped... more
Life in Space
Astronauts seem to live the good life—floating and flipping through the air, looking at the Earth from 200 miles away, and eating special vacuum-packed meals. True, the ice cream is freeze-dried, but think of the amazing view they have while eating dessert. Being an astronaut is a cool job, but before you sign up you should know life in space isn’t all fun and games. The lack of gravity can make our bodies act in strange ways.
Living on Earth
All living things on Earth have adjusted to the environment. This means that over time, humans have gotten used to the conditions here. One of the things we have grown used to is gravity. Walking around under the force of gravity requires strong muscles. In low-gravity environments such as in space or in orbit around the Earth, everything changes.
What if you worked in space?
The International Space Station is a big laboratory 200 miles above the Earth that can hold six astronauts. The men and women living there stay in a low-gravity environment for months, or sometimes more than a year. After floating around for so long, they often have a hard time walking back on Earth. Some returning astronauts have to be carried out of the spacecraft because they cannot walk. This definitely doesn’t add to the list of astronaut work “benefits.” Why does this happen and what happens to a person’s body while they are in space?