Risk of death from radiation makes missions to Mars impossible at present: scientists
Published : Monday, 3 June, 2019 at 10:14 PM Count : 635
Astronauts journeying to Mars could be bombarded with 700 times the radiation experienced on Earth — rendering missions to the Red Planet 'impossible' at present.
The European Space Agency has assembled a cross-disciplinary team of researchers to learn more about the health impacts of space radiation.
They are also exploring how astronauts might be better protected as we journey further into the solar system.
Researchers are working on developing risk guidelines for astronauts travelling to the moon and beyond.
They are also testing biological samples, electronics and shielding materials against artificially-made cosmic rays in the laboratory.
An astronaut would be exposed to at least 60 per cent of the total radiation dose limit for their entire career doing just one six-month journey to Mars.
This finding was revealed on data from the ExoMars Orbiter of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Russian Roscomos.
'One day in space is equivalent to the radiation received on Earth for a whole year,' said radiation physicist Marco Durante.
Missions to Mars would take months to arrive at the Red Planet.
'As it stands today, we can’t go to Mars due to radiation,' he added. 'It would be impossible to meet acceptable dose limits.'
ESA has assembled a forum of researchers who are working to protect the health of future astronauts on missions to the moon and further out into the solar system.
Covering disciplines across biology, medicine, physics and space science, these experts have been advising ESA since 2015.
'The real problem is the large uncertainty surrounding the risks,' explained Professor Durante, who is part of the ESA team formed to investigate radiation.
'We don’t understand space radiation very well and the long-lasting effects are unknown,' he added.
Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field act to protect us from the bombardment of cosmic rays.
These are energetic particles travelling close to the speed of light that penetrate the human body.
Unpredictable solar particle events from the sun can also deliver high doses of radiation across short periods of time.
In space and on Mars, where the intrinsic magnetic field is dead and the atmosphere is comparatively thin, astronauts do not have the same protections.-Daily Mail