One of humankind’s most ambitious goalsis sending the first humans to Mars. We recently told you that China announced its intention to send a man to the Red Planet, and the NASA Artemis program plans even indicate the estimated period of this historical event - the 2030s. But if the main criterion for any space flights is the safety of astronauts, then arrival on such an unfriendly planet like Mars will put the life and health of future space travelers at risk.
Cosmic radiation is the main problem of future colonists
Space is fraught with many dangers forhuman, but the most serious problem is space radiation. In its simplest form, cosmic radiation is a form of energy that can consist of electromagnetic waves, particles or rays. The atmosphere of the Earth protects us from the harmful effects of this radiation, but as soon as astronauts board a spaceship and leave this protective bubble, they can be exposed to various types of cosmic radiation. Moreover, according to recent scientific studies, cosmic radiation has a devastating effect on the brain. Thus, the danger for future space travelers will overtake them even before arriving on Mars.
The atmosphere on the Red Planet is not as strong asEarth's atmosphere. In its composition, it is more reminiscent of the atmosphere of Venus and 95% consists of carbon dioxide. And the actual absence of a magnetic field on the Red Planet suggests that most of the surface of Mars is exposed to cosmic radiation, which comes from several sources at once, including our Sun. However, other stellar objects that are not included in the solar system, such as supernovae, are a source of radiation.
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How does space radiation affect health?
Radiation Penetrates DNA Molecules Foreverchanging and damaging them. Some of the major health problems associated with exposure to space radiation include an increased risk of cancer, impaired motor function and behavior, neurological disorders, and death. Research on the effects of radiation on human health is limited, given the small sample (in the end, not many people were on the moon). But several studies have shown alarming results.
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So, according to a 2016 study,published in Scientific Reports, Apollo mission astronauts suffered from diseases of the cardiovascular system that often caused premature death. These health problems, according to scientists, could be caused by cosmic radiation. Moreover, those astronauts who went on long-distance space flights, but did not stay in low Earth orbit, were 43% more likely to experience the development of cardiovascular diseases. But how to withstand cosmic radiation?
One of the best elements for resistance is soharmful radiation is hydrogen. Therefore, scientists are experimenting with the creation of spacesuits from hydrogenated boron nitride nanotubes, which are not only durable, but also extremely resistant to cosmic radiation. Similarly, this material is ideal for cladding a spaceship. One way or another, today researchers have many ideas on limiting cosmic radiation on Mars, but we will not know how soon they will be feasible.