Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Study: Your mother is most likely not an astronaut

Posted By on Wed, Jan 5, 2011 at 1:00 PM

click to enlarge Researchers say this gal can't get knocked up in space.
  • Researchers say this gal can't get knocked up in space.

If you harbor dreams of one day using your Mega Millions winnings to start and populate a colony of floating humans on a space station far, far away from this ghastly planet of ours, we come bearing some unfortunate news:

Space isn't good for your baby-making parts.

At least that's what a University of Kansas researcher is predicting, based on recent experiments involving floating, fucking lab rats.


KU biologist Joe Tash has been spending his time studying the sex lives of space-traveling lab rats, The Kansas City Star reports this morning. The research raises all sorts of interesting questions, mostly about how KU was able to find space helmets small enough to fit the romping rodents.

But Tash is also answering questions about what space travel does to the reproductive system. From the Star:

Sperm counts drop. Egg-producing ovary cells waste away.

At least that's been the case among the laboratory and space-traveling rodents that Tash has studied.

What

prolonged exposure to microgravity does to an astronaut's fertility

remains a big unknown. But Tash's hypothesis isn't reassuring: Long-term

space flight renders people "reproductively compromised."

"We

have a lot of tantalizing data that require more rigorous

investigation," Tash said. "It's unfortunate that we're discovering this

just as the shuttle program is winding down."

With space travel pretty much still limited to working astronauts, you wouldn't think many people would worry about reproduction. Having to adopt seems a small price to pay for having a job where you get to float around the galaxy in a flying research lab.

But Tash isn't the only one investigating space-aged sperm counts. University of Texas researcher Richard Jennings says Tash's findings clash with his own.

Jennings

has been involved in space medicine since 1987. He hasn't seen evidence

that floating in a spacecraft affects astronauts' fertility, or their

sex lives.

On the contrary.

"We've had astronauts -- after a

two-week flight they were able to get their spouses pregnant a day or

two after landing," Jennings said.

A 2005 study Jennings co-authored counted 17 babies born to female astronauts after they had been in space.

The

astronauts had a high miscarriage rate, but women who've gained the

seniority to go into space tend to be near the end of their

child-bearing years, Jennings said.

Two researchers, two theories. I guess we still can't know for sure whether Billy Hoyle's mother was actually an astronaut:




Read the full story at kansascity.com.

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