It has been speculated that radiation from solar storms might prove detrimental to astronauts aboard future Mars missions.
Solar storms are a dangerous hazard for astronauts and machinery in outer space. The flares from the sun cause damage to electronics and also radiate astronauts with harmful rays that may cause cancer.
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While planet earth is safe, the surface of Mars is not immune to solar storms. The research done so far into the matter is scanty and we just don’t know how astronauts of the future will fare once they land for extended periods of living on the Red Planet.
NASA has sent spacecraft without any crew to Mars to gauge the atmosphere on the barren landscape. Solar radiation has two kinds. There are flares that are sudden flashes that have a great speed and get dissipated quickly.
They take approximately a quarter of an hour to reach the surface of Mars. That is insufficient time for any human agency to evade them. Maybe an observatory would need to be built on Mars to warn the future human beings on its surface regarding the impending disaster. But we digress.
Underground godowns that resist radiation could be employed in the scheme of things. Water or nylon interspersed with boron could be used to act as a shield against the dangers of radiation.
“If I was going to be (an astronaut) on Mars, I would have some sort of monitor on Mars. I would be looking at the sun on Mars,” Alex Young, associate director for science in the heliophysics science division at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, told Discovery News.
The second type of solar eruption is coronal mass ejections (CMEs). These consist of huge dust clouds composed of tiny particles that take up to 30 hours to reach the surface of Mars.
While they give enough time to scurry to the safety of the subterranean bunkers, they emit a much higher dose of radiation. Besides the obvious need for shelters, spacecraft need to switch off their electronic paraphernalia. The method is valid since no Martian rover has been disabled by the rays to this point.
Some minor warps and wrinkles in computer commands do occur, but they are a normal part of standard operating procedure. Even more daunting than the solar radiation is the conditions aboard the Martian spacecraft.
The eight to nine months that the flight will take can make any astronaut cry out in pain and frustration. Living in cramped conditions aboard a spacecraft where all your waste matter will have to be recycled is hardly a proposal anyone looks forward to.
As far as generating oxygen, water and a food supply upon landing on the Red Planet is concerned, that is an almost insurmountable task. A lot needs to be done before sending human beings to Mars becomes a reality.