Astronauts en route to Mars can be hit by radiation levels 700 times above Earth levels, which is a major roadblock to successful Solar System exploration. European experts are working alongside ESA to fix this issue. The Earth’s atmosphere and magnetic field prevent exposure to cosmic rays, which may enhance cancer risks. CNS, heart, and brain could sink into degeneration. Cataracts have also been reported in higher quantities than usual in astronauts.
Physicist Durante explained that a day spent in empty space is equal to a year on Earth in terms of radiation-dosage exposure. Most gene expressions changes between astronaut Scott and his twin Mark Kelly were thought to be due to exposure. Powerful solar events are also likely to cause radiation sickness.
Marco stated that the uncertainty made it harder to develop countermeasures. His team is providing advice based on areas like physics, medicine, biology, and space science to improve current protection measures.
Jennifer Ngo-Anh of the ESA stated that this department will see extensive research by ESA.
Although not treated as radiation workers everywhere, astronauts are exposed and surrounded by 200 times the radiation faced by a pilot or nurse from radiology.
If any sudden events occur, teams can be instructed to abort spacewalks, move to shielded areas or even modify the station’s altitude to reduce impact.
Recent data indicates that the 6-month space voyage to Mars would expose an astronaut to more than 60% of his recommended lifetime radiation limit. This is currently the biggest barrier to going to Mars.
ESA has been teaming up with European particle accelerators to recreate conditions and test biological cells & other materials in it. This will let them provide better measures, with lithium showing the biggest promise.
ESA has monitored radiation doses of astronauts for 7 years. Thomas Pesquet and Andreas Mogensen wore a mobile dosimeter, giving accurate exposure details.
The same team will also be working on NASA’s Orion project, by providing radiation detectors which can calculate organ and skin doses.