Want to go to space? Prepare to see your skin shrink

This image was removed due to legal reasons.

Space is not a friendly place for humans. If you're tired, you can't lie down. If you're hungry, you can't eat what you want. You get lonely. You get bored. And, apparently, you lose some skin.

That particular malaise was outlined in cringe-worthy detail in a Reuters article this week: according to a scientist tasked with evaluating astronaut skin after they've returned from long stings on the ISS, being in space can make your skin 20 percent thinner.

Saarland University's Karsten Koenig explained his results: "So far we've got interesting results from three astronauts… we found that the epidermis, in particular the part of the living cells, that this epidermis is shrinking, so the skin gets thinner."


Not great! And it gets worse: "We've seen the epidermis get thinner by nearly 20 percent. And so far we have no explanation. But this happened within six months; the question is if you go to Mars they need one or two years and we don't know yet."

Koenig's research is part of Skin B, a joint effort by NASA and the European Space Agency (ESA) to study how time spent in the cosmos affects skin.

Back in April, Koenig pointed out that the danger of thin skin is especially high in space, he explained, where astronauts are exposed to dangerous radiation.

Interestingly, the time in space contributed to collagen growth—so skin may look younger. Huh.


Danielle Wiener-Bronner is a news reporter.

Share This Story

Get our newsletter