Skin ageing process in fast-forward
The astronauts' skin also responds to the new living conditions in space. In 2006, scientists at Witten-Herdecke University in North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany, investigated how astronaut's skin changed in microgravity. "On that occasion, we were able to determine that the surface and structure of his skin changed in the same way that it does during the ageing process," explains Nicole Gerlach from the Institute for Experimental Dermatology at Witten-Herdecke University. The skin regenerated itself upon his return from space. "However, a single data set is not adequate for investigating this phenomenon," the project leader stresses.
For this reason, non-invasive skin physiological measurements are performed on further 6 astronauts before and after the mission. Some of the measurements are also performed by trained crewmembers during their long-term stay onbaord the ISS. Project Leader Nicole Gerlach and Institute Director Ulrike Heinrich can thus observe how his skin changes under the influence of microgravity over an extended period of time and, by so doing, observe the ageing process over a comparatively short time.