Scientists hope to learn about many aspects of life in space in order to develop and improve methods, materials and technologies that could allow humans to safely and efficiently live in space. Space is a hostile environment for humans, but understanding its inherent characteristics can greatly improve space exploration.
Many experiments in outer space, such as those conducted on the International Space Station, aim to understand the effects of space habitation on the human body and mind. The effect of micro-gravity is a primary concern because muscles can atrophy in the absence of resistance exercises such as walking, standing or running. Other concerns are calcium loss and the shifting of blood and other bodily fluids.
Because humans cannot leave their spacecraft without protective equipment such as spacesuits, the effects of confinement in outer space on the human psyche is another area of concern that scientists hope to continue to learn about.
Other experiments aim to understand how plants and animals fare on space exploration missions, which can help scientists understand potential sources of sustainable nourishment for astronauts.