Rajasthan University, India
Imagine someone asked you which is your birthplace? And you are like I’m born in space. Doesn’t this sound interesting?
First let us look at how many people are already there in space. The first person who went to outer space 52 years ago, after that more than 500 people have left the earth and have gone as far as the moon. So from the past few years there has been a continuous uninterrupted presence of humans living in space. But all these people who have gone out or are present on earth are born on this planet earth.
But what if someone is born in space? How suited is our biology for the outer space we were born into? But where do we consider this outer space to be? Outer space is about one hundred thousand meters above your head.
We all believe that the people who are in space are floating around because there is no gravity. But this is a very big misconception as there is plenty of gravity as it is on earth. They are not floating; rather they are just falling due to the orbital speed. An orbital speed is a speed which is so fast that even while falling you don’t, because the earth literally curves away from you as fast as you fall towards it. So we cannot say that there is no gravity in space but we can say that it is a zero g environment where g is acceleration.
So if the gravity is pretty much the same as earth how would a human look like if they were born in space? To understand how humans would look, it would require us to understand first what effect weightlessness has on human body. Even mere hugging each other in space is difficult but a recent invention called the ‘2-suit’ might make it easier. This invention provides effortless intimacy in weightless environment.
A baby inside mothers needs the development of vestibular system. Canals in the inner ear that uses the flow of fluid to determine movement and balance. In a zero g environment i.e. space the fluid required would just float around and this can lead to motion sickness, visual illusions and disorientation. This was experimented with the help of pregnant rats. Pregnant rats taken to space when gave birth to babies struggled with directions. Vestibular fluid is not the only fluid that would affect the babies born in space, but there are other fluids as well which would get affected by a zero-g environment. So this zero-g environment gives the babies a puffy face due to the floating fluids and all of those fluid pressure on your face can also affect the vision.
These are not the only side effects of space. Even astronauts who had long flights and returned back to earth were tested. Almost everyone had visual problems. An astronaut can even lose about 22% of their total blood volume while in space. Also the radiation from the sun and the rest of the universe can be dangerous for the human body and we are still not sure how to safe guard ourselves from these radiations.
As for the shape of the human body, full grown astronauts in orbit, no longer pressed down by earth typical gravitational force experience spinal expansion as much as 3 percent before they come back to earth. Even a person as tall as 6 feet can go to space and return as tall as 6 feet 2 inches. In a weightless environment you don’t need much of muscle strength to move around, so your muscles strength in space to weaken. All of these reasons sound scary to live in space.
We all understood that these problems affect the adults in space and pretty much the same way it would affect a developing baby in space. So a baby born in space would might look like this because of the active forces required for developing health bone structure would just not be there.
Many studies have been done on this topic and some are even planned for future as we don’t even know that a healthy fetus can develop in space or even conception can even occur in space. So let’s wait and see if all this can happen in future.