Your next skin cream may come from NASA's outer space science

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Your next skin cream may come from NASA's outer space science


               Want to avoid premature wrinkles? Drink plenty of water, wear sunscreen, don't smoke, never                   frown or knit your brow, and try to limit your time in outer space.

Astronauts' skin takes quite a beating, even without gravity to weigh it down. In fact, spacefarers say they tend to get dry, flaky, and thin skin, depleted of natural oils that keep cells plump. Yet the downsides of spaceflight, which alters gene behavior and seems to speed up the aging process, could be a key for dermatological researchers, unlocking mysteries behind old-age-related skin problems.

The unique environment in orbit has caught the attention of Colgate-Palmolive, the toothpaste giant with a newly expanded skincare division. The company is about to use the International Space Station as a test-bed for skin research, following its recent use of the space lab for an oral health study. The space station is a taxpayer-funded national laboratory, so NASA regularly invites research collaborations with private businesses.

Human skin tissue culture plates will launch aboard Northrop Grumman's Cygnus spacecraft on an Antares rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility on Feb. 19. The specimens, cells from a single donor, will be included on a supply craft containing 8,200 pounds of research materials and crew provisions. If all goes well, the spacecraft will reach the station on Feb. 21.

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