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Space fever, a new threat for astronauts during lengthy space journey: report

While on one side, the scientists are planning to increase the human space exploration mission, they also have found some risks on this mission. As per a new study, a lengthy space mission may lead to space fever in astronauts. During a study, the researcher found that humans body temperature affected by a long-term space mission. The reason behind this is the weightlessness in space. It increases the temperature of a body by 1 degree Celsius above the normal body temperature.

A small change in body temperature can affect physical and mental performance. Now, it has created a major problem for long-term space mission like Mars mission. As space is an isolated place, under its microgravity conditions, space travellers experienced increase temperature in the body even they also have faced a type of persistent fever.  The new study report was published in the journal Scientific Reports.  The researchers stated that the space fever now emerged as a potential threat to astronaut’s health during lengthy space travel.

To investigate more about it, the researchers from Charite – Universitaetsmedizin in Berlin conducted tests with 11 astronauts and recorded core body temperature of the astronauts before the space journey, during the travel and also while working in International Space Station (ISS). They measured this using the forehead sensor. They found that, instead of sudden increment, their body temperature increased gradually and reached around 38 degrees Celsius over two and half months. Apart from this, the researchers also found an increase in body temperature to 40 degrees Celsius during exercise. Well, this can be a major risk for life.

Informing more about this, Dr Hanns-Christian Gunga, Deputy Director of the Institute of Physiology and the lead researcher in the study stated that, the team has come up with new technology, a combination of a skin surface temperature sensor and a heat flux sensor. With this, the new technology can detect a minor change in body temperature.  In space, astronauts face weightless condition, during this, bodies can’t eliminate excess heat which leads to space fever. On the other hand, low gravity also affects the sweat evaporation process. Spaceflight also includes a pro-inflammatory process which is like the action of the immune system in response to infection. It also affects body temperature.

However, it is expected that the new findings will somehow help to develop such things which can protect the astronaut from space fever. The study also informed that is can also be applied to humans living on Earth.  Prof. Gunga stated that the new findings also have raised many questions about the evolution of core body temperature.

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  • The spacecraft should be spun to generate a simulation of gravity. This idea of floating for two years going to and from Mars is an artifact of decades of sci fi movies. There are problems associated with the whole craft spinning on a long axis but they are more easily solved than redesigning humans. Keep everything as close to Earth surface environmental norms!

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