One of the coolest things about Scott Kelly’s year in space is the effect it had on his body for that prolonged period of time, when compared to his Earth-bound twin brother (a former astronaut, luckily enough). Well, it looks like Scott is stacking up pretty well. Literally.
While NASA starts the long process of tracking how all that time in microgravity affected Kelly’s body, one change is readily apparent — he’s gained two inches on his twin brother, after being the exact same height a year ago, before he set off for the International Space Station.
As NASA's Jeff Williams explained to CNN, Kelly’s height gain was expected, due to the effect limited gravity has on the body’s spine, and he should “shrink” back down to his regular height in the near future, once gravity straightens him out (in a sense). With no gravity to keep pushing his spine down like the rest of us, Kelly has essentially been stretching out for a year now.
Here’s Williams' explanation:
"Astronauts get taller in space as the spine elongates, but they return to preflight height after a short time back on Earth."
Though this is obviously a quirky (and temporary) side effect of spending so much time in space, Kelly will almost certainly enjoy his brief time looking down on his brother. But, on a more serious note, it’s just a small peek into how space travel will affect human astronauts once we finally do pack up and head for the stars. Let the work begin.