A new study conducted at the NASA’s Specialised Centre of Research (Georgetown University, Washington DC) shows why sending astronauts to Mars is not a good idea, for now. We don’t have the technology to shelter the human body from long-term exposure to space radiation. According to Advocator, the study shows that the exposure will either increase the risk of cancer tumors or prove to be fatal for astronauts sent into deep space missions.
The study found that the intestines are the ones affected by space radiation, making humans’ guts ineffective in absorbing nutrients, protecting them from infections or causing cancer tumors.
Lab tests observed what happened when mice were exposed to low doses of the most dangerous cosmic radiation – electrically charged iron particles. The heavy ions like iron or silicon are like small bullets that move fast and are far more destructive than x-rays or gamma rays.
No Current Technology Can Protect Astronauts from Space Radiation
On Earth, we are protected by these heavy ions by the planet’s magnetic field that acts like a deflective shield.
The mice from the study were separated into different groups, and some were exposed to gamma rays, while others were exposed to heavy iron ions. A third group was not exposed to any kind of radiation. These simulations were similar to what astronauts could expect to be exposed to in a few months of a possible deep space mission.
The study found that the heavy ion made mice unable to absorb nutrients, and they formed cancerous polyps. Dr. Kamal Datta, the lead scientist at the Georgetown University, said that the current technology shielding could not “protect astronauts from the adverse effects of heavy ion radiation.”
He explained that medicine should be used to counter the effects and that short trips to the Moon would not be as dangerous as the deep space missions:
“While short trips, like the times astronauts traveled to the Moon, may not expose them to this level of damage, the real concern is lasting injury from a long trip such as a Mars or other deep space mission, which would be much longer.”
Rex Austinwas born and raised in Thunder Bay Ontario on the shores of Lake Superior. Apart from running his own podcast (Ice Fishing And Other “Cool” Things), he spends his time canoeing and backpacking in Northern Ontario.. As a journalist Rex has published stories for Global News (Thunder Bay) we well as Buzz Feed and Joystiq. As a contributor to Great Lakes Ledger, Rex most covers science and health stories. Contact Rexhere