Space radiations will harm astronauts at Mars: Here’s Why and How to prevent


Mars colonisation and exploration missions, alongside numerous possibilities, also have come up with the concerns for astronauts’ health and wellness. Scientists are constantly trying to explore what will be the impact of intense radiations and disorganised atmosphere of the Mars and how to prevent astronomers travelling to the Red Planet in the coming days. NASA said it is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet, which is planned to be started by 2030s.

Pat Troutman, NASA Human Exploration Strategic Analysis Lead, “Some people think that radiation will keep NASA from sending people to Mars, but that’s not the current situation.”

Troutman further added, “When we add the various mitigation techniques up, we are optimistic it will lead to a successful Mars mission with a healthy crew that will live a very long and productive life after they return to Earth.”

NASA is remarking several substances and theories to protect the crew to the harmful cosmic rays, which are too energised to penetrate metals, plastic, water and cellular material. Hence, it could be a challenging task for the agency. NASA has aimed to develop a shield for transport vehicles, habitats and space suits. And for the same the teams are are integrating radiation-sensing instruments into the Orion spacecraft, like the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor.

Besides, the space agency has also assumed that if they could develop a faster rocket such that the time spent in exposure to radiation is lesser then also the colonisation equipment could be protected.

“Mars is the best option we have right now for expanding long-term, human presence,” Troutman said.

“We’ve already found valuable resources for sustaining humans, such as water ice just below the surface and past geological and climate evidence that Mars at one time had conditions suitable for life. What we learn about Mars will tell us more about Earth’s past and future and may help answer whether life exists beyond our planet,” Troutman added.

In addition, a NASA-funded study has warned about the threat of Leukaemia for the astronauts. The question “How Martian radiations affect human body” is attained by scientists from various angles and a new study, sponsored by the US-based space agency NASA has warned that chronic contact with the deep space radiations can hamper the general wellness of travellers and intensify the threats of Leukaemia – cancer that forms in blood-forming tissue like bone marrow and impedes the function and health of vital stem cells.

NASA, keeping an eye on its upcoming Mars manned mission, slated from 2030, has been conducting multiple experiments and studies to get better and clearer insights into the intensity of Radiation impacts on spacewalking astronauts. Moreover, the agency is also trying hard to know how the Martian radiations will impinge on the cognition ability and behaviour of the spacewalkers and how it will switch genetic materials on and off. In its recently funded study, the agency has highlighted how one particular source of radiation – Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs), which predominantly sourced from outside solar system and pass through the Martian atmosphere can trigger the risks of leukaemia in the human body.

The research, carried out by the scientists of Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US has highlighted that, Galactic Cosmic Rays, while passing close to our own Sun, can shoot off intense solar flares and forces in the form of electromagnetic radiations and particles, chronic exposure to which may cause the particular type of cancer in human body.

According to NASA, radiation exposure is one of the most hazardous perspectives of taking wings to Mars. It was earlier vaguely believed to hamper people’s health. However, the particular impacts of the radiations were somehow unidentified by the scientists and to decode this puzzlement; the agency is busy in conducting experiments. As said by an official of NASA, “We are planning to send the human being to the Red Planet by the end of 2030, and before that, we want to remain assured about each and every perspective that is related to this mission.”

According to Christopher Porada, an Associate Professor at Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, US and the lead author of the study, “The aftermaths of our experiment is still subjective to further researches. The conclusions are confusing us as they illustrate chronic exposure to Martian radiation could potentially amplify the threat of leukaemia in two distinct manners. In the first mode, we found that genetic harm to HSCs (hematopoietic stem cells) can directly lead to leukaemia, while in a second way, we noticed that radiation also could impinge on the aptitude of HSCs to produce T and B cells – types of white blood cells which are involved in combating outer ‘invaders’ like contagions or tumour cells.”

About the author

Rishabh Rajvanshi

Rishabh, with six years of experience in the newspaper industry, has co-founded The TeCake in 2013. Apart from writing and editing articles on Technology at The TeCake, he also contributes to other esteemed newspapers.

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