Mars Exploration Hazard: How Will Radiation Affect The Mars Travelers?

First Posted: Nov 23, 2016 03:50 AM EST

Many space agencies and even volunteers are preparing and planning to journey to Mars in the next few years. Certainly, they will face challenges in their exploration including the radiation on the planet Mars.

Mars has a dry and cold environment. It is also lacking in air and often has sandstorms. Besides these there is radiation.

The Red Planet also has no protective magnetosphere, unlike the planet Earth. Its atmosphere was gradually stripped away by solar wind and lost its atmosphere and magnetic field. With these, Mars is exposed to increased levels of radiation than the planet Earth. Furthermore, because of its exposure to cosmic rays and solar wind, the planet Mars also receives lethal blasts occasionally, according to Phys.Org.

NASA's Mars Odyssey spacecraft measures the radiation environment around Mars. During its 18 months' investigation, the spacecraft with a special instrument called the Martian Radiation experiment (MARIE) detected ongoing radiation levels that are 2.5 times higher than what astronauts experience on the International Space Station-22 millirads per day or about 8,000 millirads (8 rads) per year. It also identified 2 solar proton events with radiation levels of about 2,000 millirads in a day and a few other events with about 100 millirads.

Meanwhile, humans in developing nations are exposed on average 0.62 rads per year. According to a study, a human body can withstand 200 rads without experiencing any damage. On the other hand, exposure to radiation on planet Mars for a long period could cause health problems such as greater risk of cancer, genetic damage, acute radiation sickness and death.

Since 2015, NASA is studying how to protect astronauts and the electronics from radiation. To shield from the higher-energy particles and radiation, there must be a utilization of a lot more mass of traditional spacecraft materials or more efficient shielding materials. Currently, the space agency in investigating a few possibilities that could be used from the spacecraft to the Martian habitats to space suits, according to NASA. 

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