Wish you were a little bit taller? Perhaps, the answer is to spend a year in space.
Astronaut Scott Kelly returned to earth this past Tuesday, March 1, after a 340-day-long space journey. He grew about 2 inches during his trip.
Unfortunately, Kelly’s growth spurt didn’t last. His twin brother, Mark Kelly, said that Scott was back to his normal height by the time the two were reunited on Thursday, according to Yahoo! News.
NASA’s Jeff Williams told CNN that, “astronauts get taller in space as the spine elongates, but they return to preflight height after a short time back on Earth.”
When on Earth, gravity compresses the discs in the spine slightly, keeping someone the height that they are. However, when an astronaut leaves the earth’s atmosphere, gravity’s force is much weaker allowing the spine to “stretch” a few inches.
Scientists will study Kelly’s change in height, as well as any other changes, as part of a study on the effects of long-term space travel on the human body. They will compare these changes with Kelly’s twin brother, a retired astronaut, who spent the year on earth. The data from this study will be used to plan a manned mission to Mars.