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Why do astronauts age more slowly than we do here on Earth?


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Depending on our location and speed, we may feel that time is moving faster or slower than other people in a different part of space-time.

And for astronauts on the International Space Station, that means they age a little slower than people on Earth.

This is due to the time dilation effect. First, because time seems to move more slowly near massive objects because the object’s gravitational force warps spacetime.

This phenomenon is called “gravitational time dilation”. In short, this means that time moves more slowly as gravity increases.

This is why time flows more slowly for objects near the center of the Earth, where gravity is stronger.

And that doesn’t mean you can spend your life in the basement just to outlive us on the roof. And the effect is not noticeable on such a small scale, then in your entire life you will age only a fraction of a second slower than everyone else on Earth.

The second factor is called “relative speed time dilation,” where time moves slower the faster you move.

A classic example of this is the twin scenario, in which one sister is sent in a spaceship flying at near the speed of light while the other stays on Earth. When a woman who has been in space returns to Earth, she is only two years old, while she discovers that her sister on Earth is already over ten years old.

Of course, no one has done this experiment in real life, but there is evidence that it is real. And when scientists launched atomic clocks into orbit and back – keeping the same clock here on Earth – they ran a little later than Earth clocks.

Time becomes more complex because gravitational time dilation and relative velocity time dilation can occur at the same time. And a good way to think about it is to think about the astronauts who live on the International Space Station.

Currently, an international crew of seven lives and works aboard the International Space Station, orbiting the Earth about every 90 minutes, according to NASA.

The space station hovers at an altitude of about 260 miles, where the Earth’s gravitational pull is weaker than on the surface. This means that time must pass faster for them than for people on Earth. But the space station is also orbiting the Earth at about five miles per second. This means that time for the astronauts must slow down compared to people on the surface.

In fact, space station slowdown has a greater effect than gravitational time dilation, which is why astronauts age more slowly than humans on Earth.

However, the difference is not noticeable – after spending six months on the International Space Station, astronauts live about 0.005 seconds less than the rest of us.

This means that when former NASA astronaut Scott Kelly returned home in historic 2016 after spending a year on the International Space Station, he was technically 0.01 seconds younger than his astronaut twin brother Mark Kelly, who stayed on Earth.

Source: Business Insider

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