What is space anemia?

The space travel damages the red blood cells in human body. Such condition where the RBC count in the body reduces due to space travel is referred to as Space anemia. In simple terms, lower RBC count in space is called space anemia.

What is space anemia?

The red blood cells are rich in iron. They carry oxygen to different parts of the body. When a human is on the earth, his body creates and destroys two million Red Blood Cells per second. However, when the same person is in space, around three million Red Blood Cells are destroyed per second. This results in loss of 54% more RBCs when the person in space. This lower count of RBC is referred to as space anemia.

Earlier misconceptions

When the astronauts are in space, their bodily fluids shift towards their upper body. This happens due to lack of gravity. It increases pressure in eyes and brain. This leads to cardiovascular diseases. Also, as the bodily fluids shift towards the upper body parts, the astronauts lose 10% of the liquid in their blood vessels. Earlier researchers believed that space anemia occurred due to this shift of the bodily fluids. They also believed that the loss of RBCs was temporary. The count restored and returned to normal after the astronauts spent ten days in space. However, the recent findings have proved that it is not so.

 Recent findings

The research team measured the RBC destruction in space. The RBC has hemoglobin. Heme is iron and globin is a  protein. The hemoglobin carries oxygen. The researchers found that every time the RBC is destroyed, a molecule of carbon monoxide was created. This means the RBC count does not restore to normal in space. Rather it deteriorates the health by producing carbon monoxide.


Having lesser RBC count in space is not an issue. However, space anemia can affect the energy levels of astronauts landing on moon or mars. They might lose strength or may even fall sick. This might affect the overall objective of a mission.




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