While recent reports claimed that retired NASA astronaut Scott Kelly, who has spent almost a year in space, has turned genetically different from his twin brother Mark Kelly due to his long stay aboard the International Space Station, NASA doesn’t agree with it.
Reports claimed that 7 per cent of Scott’s genes did not return back to normal when he came back to Earth. The news is completely false as space didn’t permanently alter 7 percent of the astronaut’s DNA. Kelly O. Humphries, NASA Johnson Space Center News Chief, came forward to confirm that Mark and Scott Kelly are still identical twins. He explained that Scott’s DNA has not fundamentally changed.
According to NASA while changes in gene expression, which is how a person’s body reacts to its environment, were found such change is normal in human beings when they are under stress, such as while mountain climbing or Scuba diving.
Even Scott Kelly himself was shocked to know about the false reports that made the rounds on social media recently. He took a dig at such reports with a Twitter post that read, “What? My DNA changed by 7%! Who knew? I just learned about it in this article. This could be good news! I no longer have to call @ShuttleCDRKelly my identical twin brother anymore.”
According to NASA, the Twins Study did found that Scott and Mark had a lot of unique mutations in their genome and some of these changes were found after Scott got back to Earth. Notably, mutations in DNA aren’t a big thing as it occurs all the time, as people get older. In fact, bits of DNA were also found circulating freely in Scott’s blood which the space agency claimed might have been caused by the stresses of space travel or it could have happened before he went to space.
NASA is expected to release the Twins Study research results this summer.