Cancer risk from galactic cosmic radiation exposure is a “showstopper” for a manned mission to Mars

Cancer risk from galactic cosmic radiation exposure is a “showstopper” for a manned mission to Mars

Unlike Earth, on Mars, the radiations are an “exotic” mix of solar radiation and supernova sourced radiation. The epithet “exotic” belongs to Michael Weil, a professor in the Department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences at CSU.

Michael Weil is the senior author of the study that warns about the cancerous risks within the exposure of a manned mission on Mars. The type o radiation on Mars is quite a mystery for scientists since it couldn’t have been testes here on Earth. Weil shows concerns mostly because of the heavy ions that have the power to penetrate a spacecraft hull.

The risks for humans are at any rate similar to the risks of radiation on Earth if not higher. Cancer, cardiovascular disease, and neurodegenerative disorders are among the illnesses most expected to be caused by exposure to radiation on Mars. The worst part is that the astronauts would have to live under continuous exposure for at least three years since this is the estimated duration for the mission programmed to be launched in 2030.

The research

The study was conducted on mice populations. The results show no oddities in the types of tumors the mice developed from the exotic combo. And just like in the human population, female mice showed a higher predisposition to develop radiation-induced cancer.

For the study, Weil got the help of Dr. Elijah Edmondson, a veterinary pathologist, and researcher based at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research in Maryland.

“Humans are very genetically diverse. You want to model that when it’s appropriate and feasible to do so,” said Edmondson.

Next step

The study’s next phase is the organ trial. With the help of Adam Chicco, a CSU Associate Professor in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, Weil intends to submit technologically created human organs and observe the impact of the exotic radiation on them.

Anna Daniels

Anna is an avid blogger with an educational background in medicine and mental health. She is a generalist with many other interests including nutrition, women's health, astronomy and photography. In her free time from work and writing, Anna enjoys nature walks, reading, and listening to jazz and classical music.

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