What’s the Worst Thing About Being an Astronaut?

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NewsFeed isn’t going to lie: We’ve always dreamed of going to space, seeing the stars and gazing down on the bright blue planet thousands of miles beneath us. But a new report has detailed a scary new thing that happen to earthlings when they venture into the cold nothingness of the great beyond.

According to National Geographic, one persistent design problem NASA has encountered is an inability of spacesuits’ gloves to simulate the pressure of earth’s atmosphere. As a result astronauts often suffer from nagging hand injuries after working or training in the gloves — including an unfortunate propensity for their fingernails to fall off.

The icky image of fingernail-less zero G astronauts has caused NewsFeed’s mind to go wandering: What is the worst thing about being in space? Well, did you know that…?

—In space, low gravity messes up astronauts’ blood and bones. On earth, gravity makes the blood in our bodies pool near the bottom, in our legs and feet. In the low gravity of space, though, blood is more evenly distributed throughout the human body, causing astronauts’ faces to get puffy and their legs to get weaker. In addition, space-men and -women have to worry about their muscles atrophying from disuse. Low gravity also accelerates osteoporosis.

—Space gives astronauts motion sickness. When the balance information provided by your inner ear doesn’t match up with the spatial information provided by your eyes, you get motion sickness. In the low gravity of space, the inner ear doesn’t work properly so this happens all the time. It takes about three days for the sickness to subside.
(See pictures of the labor of space exploration.)

—The loud noises in spaceships can cause hearing loss in astronauts. In the International Space Station, the living quarters can be as loud as 75 decibels, causing damage to astronauts’ ears. The link between loud noises in space and hearing loss has not been proven, but many astronauts experience temporary hearing loss even after short missions.

—Space-bound astronauts are susceptible to increased levels of dangerous radiation. This space radiation is especially harmful to astronauts’ DNA, which can lead to harmful mutations passed on to their earthbound children.

—Being in a spaceship too long can hurt astronauts’ mental health. This isn’t about the science of space per se. It’s about loneliness and isolation, about being crammed in a small space with the same people and not being able to leave, which increases tension and reduces crew tension over time. Crap! If NewsFeed has those feelings even when we’re on earth, how bad would space be? Never mind the whole ‘being an astronaut’ thing, now we want to be firemen!

Read the full list of space-dangers over at Thinkquest.