Space

Will Astronauts Lose Their Spleens Before Going to Mars?

There’s always been this rumor floating around that in Nintendo’s Star Fox series, Fox McCloud and his crew all have robotic legs. Why? Well, because their legs were surgically removed to allow them to withstand the intense G forces they’d encounter during spaceflight.

I’m serious.

While that’s just a bit of space SciFi with pigs and foxes, this kind of pre-emptive modification might be something we eventually see here in the real world, as we attempt to reach farther out into the cosmos.

Just recently, the topic of astronaut spleens resurfaced in the news. You read that right. Researchers at Russia’s Institute of Biomedical Problems say they’ve been discussing the issue with their American colleagues.

In particular, the spleen may be removed from astronauts prior to any long-distance flights to reduce damage from radiation — which, they say, is the “main barrier” for journeys to Mars and beyond.

Other body parts, such as the eyes, may also be modified to better withstand the ravages of space.

If any of this sounds familiar, Seth Shostak was just writing about how life in the galaxy might have to alter itself to make long voyages through space. Huh.

For more on the idea of prophylactic surgery before long-distance space flights, check out this study from 2012.

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