It takes something special to be an astronaut – an extraordinary combination of bravery, fitness, intelligence, lightning-fast decision-making and calmness under the most extreme pressure. It’s known as “the right stuff“.
…[D]espite selecting the best of the best, humans are still poorly suited to life in space. We are products of 3.8 billion years of evolution in a comfy 1g oxygen-rich biosphere, protected by a magnetic bubble (the magnetosphere) from the harshness of the Universe. Away from the Earth, astronauts are bombarded by cosmic radiation and suffer nausea, muscle and bone loss, deteriorating eyesight and even weakened immune systems as a result of zero gravity.
But what if instead of putting the effort into adapting space to humans, we do as [ESA astronaut Luca] Parmitano suggests and adapt humans to space? “You can imagine designing a future space-faring human, that’s not shocking or surprising but something we could do,” says Parmitano. “Maybe we have to.”
The chances are when humans begin to leave the Earth in any significant numbers, we are going to have to adapt to a new environment. Instead of searching for Earth 2.0, we could instead breed Human 2.0. They might even have four hands and a tail.
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