Special presentation: Explore the results of NASA’s Twins Study

Join the scientists behind NASA’s groundbreaking Twins Study during their first public talk at Space Center Houston June 3.

Hear from the researchers on the results of the investigation and how this groundbreaking study advances our knowledge of the human body and the impacts of spaceflight through the study of identical twins.

The day includes a presentation at 11 a.m. with hands-on activities about how the environment of space can affect DNA, the basic building blocks of life. Meet some of our nation’s greatest minds as they discuss their key findings and answer questions.

Activities

Become a scientist yourself and learn about how DNA as well as how human health and performance are affected by space in four special activities.

The genetic code
Genes hold the instructions for the structure and function of all living organisms. Learn how these instructions are stored and practice deciphering the code.

Methylation activity
The environment of space, as well as that on Earth, can have an effect on the way your genes are expressed. One of these effects is called methylation. Join us in the methylation activity and learn about how methylation works both in space and here on Earth.

Reaction time
Astronauts must respond quickly to handle any situation arising on missions. How does living and working in space affect reaction time? Join us and learn about the results of this investigation and see how your reaction time measures up here on Earth.

Risk taking
Astronauts are constantly faced with making critical decisions. They must carefully weigh the potential risks and benefits to ensure the success of the mission which includes the safety of the crew. Join us and learn if living and working in space affects these decisions and try your hand at our risk taking activity.

Presentation

The panel will be moderated by Space Center Houston’s scientist in residence Dr. John Charles, who worked in NASA’s Human Health & Performance Directorate to shed light on how the environment impacts your DNA and how the human body responds to spaceflight. These and more findings are what NASA’s 10 research teams, led by principal investigators, set out to better understand.

Dr. Charles served for 33 years at NASA, culminating as Chief Scientist, Human Research Program at Johnson Space Center. Previously, he was the associate manager, International Science, where he led NASA’s space life sciences planning for the joint US/Russian one-year mission on the International Space Station, including the Twins Study.

About the study

The Twins Study is helping scientists better understand the impacts of spaceflight on the human body through the study of identical twins. The study included 10 separate research teams who coordinated and shared all data and analysis as one large, integrated research team. Retired astronaut Scott Kelly spent 340 days in low-Earth orbit aboard the International Space Station while his identical twin, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, remained on Earth. The twins’ genetic similarity provided scientists with a reduced number of variables and an ideal control subject, both important to scientific investigation. It was the first time NASA studied a twin in space while the other twin was on Earth.

Three years after Scott’s return, the results of this study were published in one integrated paper with numerous other publications to follow. This is the first public talk held with the scientific investigators since the research was published.

The presentation and activities are included in general admission.

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