Scott Kelly Grew 2 Inches During His Year in Space

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Here on Earth, your height is mostly determined by the genes you inherit from your parents. And once you’ve stopped growing, your dreams of getting any taller are pretty much kaput–unless you go to space.

When Scott Kelly returned to Earth this week after spending almost a year on the International Space Station, he came back about two inches taller than when he left Earth.

What caused this growth? Spending time in a zero-G environment like that of the International Space Station causes the spine to stretch. On Earth, gravity keeps the vertebrae in place by constantly pushing them together. But without gravity, the vertebrae will naturally expand slightly, causing a person to become taller.

However, this growth is minor and temporary. Typically, astronauts in space can grow up to three percent of their original height, but no more than that. And after a few months back on Earth, gravity will shrink a person back to her original height.

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SOURCE: Popular Science, Claire Maldarelli