With NASA in the developmental stages of a planned mission to Mars, many experts have raised concerns as to the harmful consequences that astronauts will face with prolonged exposure to cosmic rays.
Researchers in a NASA-funded study subjected mice to the same amount of radiation that astronauts would be exposed to in space. The animals experienced changes in their brains that impaired their performance on tests of learning and memory.
The article, published in Science Advances, concluded that astronauts could suffer cognitive impairment during an extended journey through space. A report by the Wall Street Journal reports that Dr. Cary Zeitlin, a researcher at the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio, who was not involved in the study said that these changes, “could be a real problem.”
These sort of cognitive changes could manifest during the mission and could be a real problem.
Dr Zetlin reported that the radiation levels between Earth and Mars, as detected by the Mars Science Laboratory craft during its cruise to the red planet, was the equivalent of getting “a whole-body CT scan every five or six days.”
In order to counteract the threat posed to astronauts during prolonged exposure to cosmic rays, LA Times reports that scientists may try to develop more advanced shielding options– perhaps embedded helmets– or drug treatments that might limit radiations impact on the brain, similar to the ones being developed for use by cancer patients.
NASA declined requests for interviews with its radiation experts, instead issuing a written statement saying, “NASA recognizes the importance.”
NASA recognizes the importance of understanding the effects of space radiation on humans during long-duration missions beyond Earth orbit, and these studies and future studies will continue to inform our understanding as we prepare for the journey to Mars.
In another story about NASA here at Immortal News, NASA quietly confirms the test of a warp drive.