2. Drugs Are Less Effective In Space
We just mentioned that only medical care immediately available to astronauts in space qualifies as first aid. Even at that, most of the drugs available aren’t as effective as they would be if they were administered here on Earth. During one study, researchers assembled eight first aid kits with 35 different drugs, including sleeping aids and antibiotics. Four of the kits were sent to the International Space Station, while the remaining four were kept in a special chamber at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
After 28 months, the drugs sent to the ISS were found to be less effective than those kept at the space center. Six of the drugs were also found to have either liquefied or changed in color compared to only two kept at the space center undergoing those changes. Researchers believe the loss of effectiveness is caused by the excessive vibration and radiation the drugs receive in the outer space. For now, NASA reduces the severity of this problem by replacing the drugs at the ISS every six months. In the future, it plans to improve the packaging and ingredients used in making drugs sent into space.
1. Carbon Dioxide Poisoning Is A Problem
The ISS has a higher-than-average concentration of carbon dioxide. On Earth, the concentration of CO2 is about 0.3 mm Hg, but it can reach up to 6 mm Hg at the ISS. Unfavorable side effects like headaches, irritation, and sleeping difficulties, which have become a norm among astronauts, are few of the consequences of this higher-than-normal concentration of carbon dioxide. In fact, most astronauts complain of headaches early into their missions.
Unlike on Earth, where carbon dioxide leaving the body disperses into the air, CO2 exhaled by astronauts forms a cloud above their heads. The ISS has special fans on board to blow these clouds away from the heads of the astronauts and disperse it around the facility. NASA has also mandated that the concentration of CO2 in the ISS be reduced to 4 mm Hg. However, this is still higher than the recommended 2.5 mm HG. NASA could reduce it to this level, except that it would wear the fans out faster. Hopefully, NASA will find a solution to this problem before we start traveling to Mars.