Radiation could restrict crewed Mars missions to less than four years

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  1. Calliers

    Calliers Administrator/Editor Staff Member

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    An international team of scientists has calculated that a crewed mission to Mars should only last a maximum of four years if the astronauts' health isn't to be endangered by prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation.

    Planning a crewed mission to Mars would be one of the most daunting challenges of any exploration attempt ever made by humanity. Every aspect of such a multi-year adventure would have complex impacts on every other factor, producing a constant tug of war as scientists and engineers seek compromises to fulfill mission requirements.

    As well as things like engine type, crew numbers, diet, and a thousand other things, planning also needs to take into account the ever-present hazard of radiation. Once outside of the protective envelope of the Earth's atmosphere and its magnetic field, the astronauts would be at the mercy of cosmic rays from the Sun and the larger galaxy, so the question is, how to minimize such a threat?

    According to the recent study that includes researchers from UCLA, MIT, the Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology, and GFZ Potsdam, the key to protecting Red-Planet-bound astronauts is a matter of timing and shielding material.

    The important point is that cosmic radiation isn't constant. It varies according to the activity of the Sun, which may seem changeless, but is, in fact, a variable star with a major period of 11 years during which it waxes and wanes in activity.
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    Source: newatlas
     

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