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TODAY   |  March 07, 2014

Twin astronauts participate in major NASA study

Mark and Scott Kelly, the only twins ever to have flown in space, are poised to make history again by participating in an important NASA study analyzing the effects of a year in space on the human body.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> and now we shift gears and move on to the identical twin brothers who are literally out of this world. made history when they became the only siblings ever to have flown in space .

>> well, now they're set to make history again to take part in a ground-breaking nasa study that will analyze the effects of a year in space on the human body . good morning. nice to see you.

>> good morning.

>> they got so lucky with you two. they've got identical twins. one on earth, one going up into space . this was your idea?

>> well, i mean, scott was a scientist one year mission.

>> i asked the question when i was assigned to the one-year flight whether any study like this would be done. and the answer i got was nothing being considered and the scientists took my question, went back and talked about it and thought maybe it had some merit.

>> what does this mean? they'll poke and prod you all year and you, too?

>> well, he'll be prodded probably more in space , but i'll have to give some blood and other samples.

>> just blood, you know what.

>> you know, i think there's some ultrasounds involved. and they'll compare it. and a lot of it's genetics. dna /rna.

>> what are they hoping to learn?

>> you know, with our genes -- you know, when the egg split were exactly the same. and since then, the environment has changed them somewhat. but they're pretty much similar, except he got the mustache gene. i didn't get that one. but in any case, you know, they want to look at what the space environment has done to my rna, dna , proteins, those kind of things.

>> environments are pretty severe. there's a lot of radiation that can affect your genes and dna at the smallest level.

>> other than duration of this trip, i mean 365 days , that's a lot of time up in space , scott, as you know, what makes this mission really special to you both?

>> you know, for me, having flown a long duration flight before on a personal level what makes it special is the duration and the challenge that provides. from a scientific perspective, certainly, you know, the research about having the person spend longer than we've ever had an american spend in space is important because eventually we're going to go to mars, leave low earth orbit . and we need to have that experience base of people living in space for much longer lengths of time and flight to mars and back could take three years. you know, the science value, i think, is pretty important. and also, the science value of this particular study will allow us to learn things, to help with those types of long-term missions.

>> and for me, i don't work at nasa anymore. i left after my wife was injured.

>> and it allows me to participate in some way.

>> we never got to fly in space together. this is some way we can --

>> connect. by the way, it's contagious, i guess. there's gaby who was sky diving earlier this year, how was that?

>> that was a lot of fun. that was a lot of fun. it was really a great experience for her. and --

>> give her our best.

>> i will do that. i will do that.

>> do you pay your bills in advance before you go up there?

>> probably should.

>> send him to mars.

>>> coming up,