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article imageRadiation risk from Mars could pose a problem for astronauts

By Tim Sandle     Jun 8, 2013 in Science
An instrument aboard the spaceship that carried Curiosity to Mars has found that deep space travelers would face worrying levels of radiation.
A spaceflight to Mars carrying astronauts has been discussed on and off for several decades, and it remains an objective of NASA (whether or not funding is ever released for such an endeavor).
Now, a new obstacle outside of fiscal and technological restraints has emerged: radiation. According to Wired, the Radiation Assessment Detector aboard the vessel that took Curiosity to the planet has measured the radiation exposure received on the trip as being high enough to cause harm to any human space travelers.
What the instrument has shown is that a person traveling to Mars and back who did not ever get off the spacecraft would be exposed to .66 sieverts (this is a way of demonstrating the biological effects of ionizing radiation). Doses greater than 1 sievert received over a short time period are likely to cause radiation poisoning, possibly leading to death within weeks.
From a dose of less than one sievert, the main risk is cancer, but radiation can also cause short-term memory loss and other health problems.
Commenting on the finding, John Charles of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas told the science journal Nature, that "If, as the authors suggest, the MSL data correspond to the dose to be expected by astronauts on a similarly shielded vehicle under similar conditions, then that dose is still unacceptable by NASA standards."
More about Mars, Spaceflight, Astronaut, Space mission, man on mars
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