Pretend, that you are one of the first travelers taking a visit to Mars. Surely the journey itself will be worrying, and you’ll probably be juggling various things in your brain every waking second, not to point out worrying about what life will be like when you lastly arrive on the Red Planet.
Brand new research printed in the journal eNeuro suggests that these completely reasonable anxieties could also be boosted by radiation exposure through the flight via space, raising concerns over human suitability for deep-space missions.
The research focuses on low-dose radiation exposure experiments in mice, and the researchers argue that their simulation is not only realistic but also rather horrifying as NASA takes the first steps in the direction of hashing out crewed missions to Mars.
“As NASA prepares for a mission to Mars, concerns relating to the health risks related to deep-space radiation exposure have emerged,” the researchers clarify. “Utilizing a new, low dose rate neutron irradiation facility, we’ve uncovered that realistic, low dose rate exposures produce critical neurocognitive problems related to impaired neurotransmission.”
For the experiment, the group exposed lab rodents to months of low-intensity radiation. After six months of exposure, the animals exhibited “striking neurobehavioral and electrophysiological defects,” in response to the researchers. A crewed trip from Earth to Mars will seemingly take anywhere from six to eight months.
Past analysis has demonstrated that radiation exposure could cause cognitive changes. However, there’s been little analysis into the specific results of low-dose radiation like the kind that space travelers could be confronted with during extended missions to Mars and beyond. This new research means that the risk of cognitive issues is critical and that exposure to radiation in space could dramatically increase anxiety.