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What Happens To Your Skin in Space

The microgravity environment of the ISS poses many challenges to the human body — some more expected than others — but one that many people might not know about is the “molting” of dry skin, notably from the bottom of the feet. And while astronauts living aboard Space Station often spend their days working in socks, when they go to remove them they have to be especially careful to keep floating clouds of flakes at a minimum, lest they incite allergic reactions in their crewmates.

A spray of dead skin flakes comes off with every sock (screenshot)

No, it’s not the Beehive Cluster, it’s a cloud of dead foot skin (screenshot)

Yeah, you read that right. “Floating clouds of flakes.” Eeeewwwwww.

In the latest episode of ISS Science Garage NASA astronauts Mike Massimino and Don Pettit discuss some of the finer details of podiatric etiquette whilst sojourning aboard the ISS. (Unfortunately saying it fancy-like doesn’t make it any less gross.) All I have to say is, I wouldn’t want to be the one who has to clean out the vent filters.


A graphic designer in Rhode Island, Jason writes about space exploration on his blog Lights In The Dark, Discovery News, and, of course, here on Universe Today. Ad astra!

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Simon Nicol July 31, 2013, 2:24 PM

    lovely, so glad I know that.

  • Aqua4U July 31, 2013, 3:45 PM

    Is this too much information? Skin exfoliation is not something I’d ever considered as part of long term space flight… but obviously it’s there. Kind of like jumping into a friend’s hot tub and knowing you are entering rather a Vichyssoise or ‘hot tub buddy soup’? Now do that with five others for six months… Quelle est la soupe du jour?

    • Jason Major August 1, 2013, 12:52 AM

      It’s the soup of the day.

      • Aqua4U August 2, 2013, 9:29 PM

        Oui! LOL!

  • EjectDiskNow July 31, 2013, 8:23 PM

    You’d think they’d have a vacuum platform they could use to prevent this.