Space agencies worldwide have been contemplating the idea of sending a human mission to Mars in the next few years. Negative impacts of the extreme environment of space should be considered if astronauts will be sent to the Red Planet. However, a new study suggests that such a mission is time-constraint and conditional.
The initial problem is that astronauts will be exposed to high radiation levels from the Sun that could cause cancer, cardiovascular problems, and cognitive functions decline. On top of that, according to Daily Mail, a new study by international scientists found that the safety of astronauts can only be ensured depending on when they will go.
Researchers pointed out that the mission to Mars should be less than four years and should happen when the Sun is at its solar maximum.
Ensuring Safety of Human Mission to Mars
In the study titled "Beating 1 Sievert: Optimal Radiation Shielding of Astronauts on a Mission to Mars," published in the journal Space Weather, researchers wrote that the limitations of heavy spacecraft and the time of launch could present technological difficulties for a human mission to Mars.
Daily Mail reported that there are two types of particles that could harm astronauts while in space: solar energetic particles and galactic cosmic rays. The intensity of each particle can move up or down depending on the solar activity.
Researchers of the study said that the rate of galactic cosmic rays drops during a solar maximum. This will also reduce the likelihood of solar energy particles found. According to NASA, the next solar maximum is forecast to peak sometime in July 2025.
Nathan Schwadron, a researcher of a separate study, told the space agency that the findings are a bit ironic. However, reduced galactic cosmic rays and solar energy particles next solar maximum may be one of the safest times to fly the human mission to Mars in the last eight decades.
The team noted that during the solar maximum, astronauts may be shielded from SEP particles. Moreover, they calculated that the mission should not exceed four years as space radiation imposes strict restrictions and presents technological difficulties to the human mission to Mars.
Large Chunk of Martian Rock Will Be Displayed in Maine
Meanwhile, people can experience a piece of the Red Planet literally without compromising their safety regardless if the Sun is at its solar maximum or not.
Phys.org reported that a large chunk of Martian rock will be displayed in a museum in Maine, the Maine Mineral & Gem Museum. The rock is said to weigh 32 pounds (15 kilograms) and measures about 10 inches (25 centimeters).
The large Martian rock resulted from an asteroid impact that landed on the Red Planet and was ejected into an Earth-crossing orbit in space.
Museum officials said that there are less than 500 pounds (227 kilograms) of Martian rocks that can be found on Earth's surface. However, the one that will be displayed in the museum is called the 'Taoudenni 002.'
Visitors can see the Martian rock on September 1 when the museum reopens to the public, although there is a limited reception on August 31 to celebrate the acquisition of the Martian rock. They added that two NASA scientists are expected to attend the event at the museum on that date.
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