HOUSTON, TX – NASA has some big news for astronaut twins, Mark and Scott Kelly: you guys are still identical twins. The agency released a statement after a barrage of headlines Thursday stating the opposite.
People Magazine wrote: Astronaut Scott Kelly’s DNA No Longer Matches Identical Twin’s After a Year in Space.
Newsweek: NASA TWINS STUDY CONFIRMS ASTRONAUT’S DNA ACTUALLY CHANGED IN SPACE
CNN: Astronaut’s gene expression no longer same as his identical twin, NASA finds.
“Scott’s DNA did not fundamentally change,” the agency said. “What researchers did observe are changes in gene expression, which is how your body reacts to your environment.”
The Kelly brothers even got in on it.
Mark tweeted out the Newsweek story, writing: “I used to have an identical twin brother. Then this happened.”
Scott took to Twitter to joke: “What? My DNA changed by 7%! Who knew? I just learned about it in this article. This could be good news! I no longer have to call @ShuttleCDRKelly my identical twin brother anymore.”
The stories stemmed from a NASA release that actually had come out in January.
It contained a sentence that many outlets – including Patch – apparently took too literally.
“Although 93% of genes’ expression returned to normal postflight, a subset of several hundred “space genes” were still disrupted after return to Earth,” the release said.
NASA felt the need to clarify.
“Mark and Scott Kelly are still identical twins; Scott’s DNA did not fundamentally change,” they said in a statement. “What researchers did observe are changes in gene expression, which is how your body reacts to your environment.
“This likely is within the range for humans under stress, such as mountain climbing or SCUBA diving.”
NASA says they will be releasing more information later this summer.
Photo via NASA.