An Astronaut’s Broken Heart

Launched into space like puppets on a string,

These metal ships danced fiercely on the waves;

Such precious cargo was held deep within,

Laden with men who would see early graves.

A tranquil sea lay out before their eyes,

Revealing scenes that only they have seen;

The shadow of the Earth in a sunrise,

Would fade and slowly die like a lost dream.

Now far from Gaia’s firm, protective reach,

Their bodies throbbed with substances unknown;

And somewhere in their minds a telling breach:

When you have seen the Earth is it still home?

Should deep space radiation take the blame,

When living could not ever be the same.

 

The green dots in this image indicate locations of Apollo landings on the moon (Photo Credit: NASA).
The green dots in this image indicate locations of Apollo landings on the moon (Photo Credit: NASA).

 

This is a Shakespearean Sonnet inspired by recent research, which has found that astronauts that were part of the Apollo missions were 4-5 times more likely to die from  cardiovascular diseases (CVD) than other astronauts. It is believed that this is because it was only the Apollo astronauts who travelled beyond the Earth’s orbit and into deep space, where (outside of the Earth’s magnetosphere) they were subjected to large amounts of deep space radiation.

The study also further investigated the effects of deep space radiation on the cardiovascular system by exposing mice to the type of radiation that Apollo astronauts would have experienced. The mice were found to have impaired arteries that can lead to CVD in humans. This research is important, as any astronauts in future missions beyond the Earth’s immediate orbit (e.g. manned missions to Mars) would be exposed to this deep space radiation, and so would need to be suitably protected.

An audio version of this poem can be found here.

 

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