Scientists have uncovered new information about why astronauts get anemic when they return to Earth after space travel. According to Canadian experts, space destroys 50 percent more red blood cells than on Earth, and this occurs throughout the journey. As a result, they feel that long expeditions to the moon, Mars, and beyond will be challenging. Their findings, on the other hand, may be useful to bedridden people on Earth who are suffering from the same condition. Scientists have known about “space anemia” since the first voyages returned to Earth, but the cause has remained unknown. More has been uncovered thanks to a small University of Ottawa study of 14 astronauts who spent six months on the International Space Station, including Britain’s Tim Peake.

Using blood and breath samples gathered during their visits, the researchers were able to calculate red blood cell loss. Because they transfer oxygen from the lungs to other parts of the body, these cells are essential to life. Because of the weightlessness in space, this is not a problem, but when astronauts return to Earth, they have lost bone mass and muscle strength, and they are weary.