No, it’s not a good idea for skin treatment. Space makes your skin thin, but you might need to know that it’s not so good for you. A recent experiment has discovered that besides the already known problems that long duration space exposure causes, one’s skin is also at great risk.
Previously to this study, we already knew that long effects of being in zero-G included a lot of risky things like losing density in one’s bones, or pressure build-up in the head, due to the fact that gravity is no longer so strongly pulling down fluids and therefore the fluid flow inside the body isn’t regulated.
This latter problem can easily cause complications at the eye level, in some cases even impairing vision. Many astronauts who had spent time in space need several months of recovery – Chris Hadfield, former commander of the ISS is one example. The 2 percent bone density degradation per month in space is no joke, and can cause serious movement problems.
Professor Karsten Koenig, from the Faculty of Physics at the German university of Saarland, has used very sensitive lasers to check the effects of space exposure to the human skin. This experiment was done at the call of both NASA as well as the European Space Agency (ESA), as both space agencies had reported their astronauts complaining of skin problems when coming back from long months aboard the ISS.
For the experiment, three astronauts of the ESA let the doctors literally get under their skins. Luca Parmitano and Samantha Cristoforetti, both Italian astronauts, as well as German space-trekker Alexander Gerst participated in the test by having their skin checked before take-off. Then they spent several months in space each, the first Italian and the German astronauts spent each 166 days above the Earth, while Samantha Cristoforetti spent a month more, 199 days.
When the three got back, the doctors scanned their skins once more. They used femtosecond lasers, which deliver a resolution approximately 1,000 times better than ultrasound, the previous method. These lasers allowed them to use the florescence and harmonic generation to generate complex images of the interior of their skins.
The results: the astronauts have more collagen, which translates to some sort of anti-aging process, in the lower skin part called the dermis. They also found that the living cells of the epidermis were shrinking, so the skin was getting thinner. Up to 20 times thinner.
Scientists do not yet have an explanation for their findings. They are now planning further tests as they are anxiously waiting for other test subjects to climb down from the big station in the sky.
Image source: dailymail.co.uk