25Apr2014

What Are The Dangers Of Living On Mars?

 Surface

Permanently living on Mars would wreak all sorts of damage on the human body. Its a serious concern and one not taken lightly because of the devastating effects. Here are the main concerns:

Radiation: The Earth’s magnetic field and atmosphere naturally protect us from most of the harmful radiation that emanates through space. Without this protection, any astronauts living on Mars would be exposed to dangerous levels of it, increasing their long-term risk of cancer.

NASA recently calculated that a round-trip voyage to Mars, combined with a six-month stay there, would increase an astronaut’s lifetime risk of developing fatal cancer by about five percent. The longer someone stayed there, the higher this number would climb. This radiation would also increase a person’s chance of having a child with a harmful genetic mutation — a big problem for any plans to establish a self-sustaining colony there.

There have been various mechanisms suggested to shield astronauts from some of this radiation, like Martian soil piled up against their living quarters, and a special, heavily-lined protection room they could retreat to in case of a solar flare.

Reduced gravity: Normally, your body’s muscles and bones have to work to stand up against the force of Earth’s gravity. Due to Mars’ reduced gravity, astronauts’ muscles would quickly atrophy: in experiments, rats flown in space lost a third of the muscle bulk in their legs within a few days.

For some muscles, this could be minimized by exercise on stationary bikes or treadmills, but the reduced gravity would still be a problem for the skeletal system (which would lose calcium, becoming more brittle) and for the mechanisms inside the inner ear that normally allow you to balance (potentially leading to vertigo and disorientation).

There’s also some evidence that an extended period of time in reduced gravity can be harmful to astronauts’ eyesight, perhaps because it causes the fluid pooled near the optic nerve to expand, changing the shape of the eyeball.

Boredom: Some experts think that psychological tensions of spending years cooped up with a couple of crew mates and few distractions would be the most difficult part of a Mars journey. This would be compounded by the fact that it takes at least 10 minutes for radio waves to travel from Earth there, making real-time communications with loved ones impossible. Source: Vox

Read previous post:
Urine
Could Astronaut Urine Fuel a Trip to Mars?

Pee and other human waste certainly aren't the most glamorous...

ANZAC And The Spirit Of The Southern Cross

  From Eureka to Ned Kelly, from Gallipoli and in...

A group of former Nasa astronauts are on an extraordinary mission to save the world from asteroids Photo: GETTY IMAGES
Astronauts Plan $250 Million Asteroid Telescope To Stop Disaster

 Apollo astronauts warn only "blind luck" has prevented worse disasters...

Close