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Mars Mission Radiation

June 14, 2013

Scientists have calculated how much radiation astronauts would face on a manned Mars mission – and it’s a lot.



Radiation risks for Mars explorers. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

A manned trip to Mars would take about a year. That means the astronauts would face unprecedented exposure to space radiation. To find out how much, scientists put sensors on the unmanned Mars Science Laboratory, which arrived on Mars last summer. According to principal scientist Cary Zeitlin, of the Southwest Research Institute in Colorado, the results indicate that astronauts would approach or even exceed their career exposure limits on a Mars mission, even with today’s radiation shields. Unfortunately, making shields better would mean making them bigger.

CARY ZEITLIN (Southwest Research Institute):

Astronauts in deep space will get a continuous low radiation dose. There’s no way anybody’s ever going to launch some super massive amount of shielding to protect people. So the best thing we can do, really, is to get there faster. Which would require some other means of propulsion.

I’m Bob Hirshon for AAAS, the Science Society.

Getting to the Red Planet could put astronauts' health in danger. NASA's Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity used its panoramic camera (Pancam) to acquire this view of "Solander Point" during the mission's 3,325th Martian day, or sol (June 1, 2013). (NASA/JPL-Caltech/Cornell Univ./Arizona State Univ.)