Long trips in space may thin the skin. Three months on the International Space Station prompted mice skin to waste away and the animals’ hair to grow, a new study shows. Scientists had hints that skin might be sensitive to weightlessness (astronauts frequently report skin injuries), but no one had analyzed the effects in such a long-term study before.
At 91 days in space, the astromice broke the record for weightlessness for nonhuman animals. The flimsy skin suggests that people may suffer similar damage on extended spaceflights. But because only three of six mice survived the trip, the findings are still preliminary, researchers report online May 27 in npj Microgravity, a new open-access journal.