NASA: Radiation So Far Not A Problem If Humans Decide To Visit Mars

During the Curiosity rover's nine-month trip to Mars, it copped its fair share of radiation-producing solar flare and particle events. This, in turn, provided NASA with a fair chunk of information to help it figure out the protective requirements for humans to make the trip. Until now, the organisation didn't have radiation numbers from the perspective of being on the surface itself, but Curiosity has again delivered and the prospects look good, at least for now.

According Don Hassler, the principal investigator for Curiosity's "Radiation Assessment Detector" (with the appropriate acronym RAD), astronauts could "absolutely" live in the Martian environment without fear of overexposure. The statement was made at a press conference last week and covered by CNN's Light Years blog, which goes into a bit more detail on the specifics.

Firstly, Mars doesn't benefit from a magnetic field like Earth's, so that's one less defence against solar radiation. Complicating things is the fact Mars' atmosphere is only one percent as thick as ours. Even with these deficiencies, astronauts would be more worried about radiation exposure to and from the planet, rather than what they'd receive just walking around on the surface. The CNN story notes that astronauts would have to spend at least six months on Mars between jaunts to stay within "career limits".

NASA will have a better idea of the situation once Curiosity is exposed to a solar event, which it currently has yet to experience since landing back in August. These spikes will provide a clearer indication of humanity's chances at long-term Martian living arrangements, unless someone invents deflector shields in the meantime and renders it a moot point.

[Light Years -- CNN]

Image: Total Recall, TriStar Pictures / Sony

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    The headline kind of implies that there are already humans living on Mars.

      Well, that's definitely not the case, but for those living the dream I've tweaked the headline.

        I didn't mean it in a smart arse kind of way.

    i understand the desire to live on other planets, but wouldn't building space colonies be a more viable option, aka those futuristic types u see on gundam etc

      Mars has abundant water, chemical and mineral reserves, given enough time it could support a self sustaining colony. Plus you have extra protection on mars than you do in space.

        "Mars has abundant water, chemical and mineral reserves"

        You sure you are not thinking about the orginal Total Recall there?

      Gundam isn't real, despite what you read in PDF's.

        no shit sherlock, but the concepts shown in it are entirely possible in the near future

          Please provide links to a PDF supporting that statement.

          The science checks out - it's all good.

    "Getcha ass to Mahs!"

    To negate the radiation problem on the planet you can build the habitat underground (or above ground using mud bricks) and other odd solutions, so not so moot.

    I read it years ago but a really interesting book that tries to cover all the known problems is Robert Zubrin's "The Case for Mars" - I found this to be a interesting and really fun read... Just saying :-)

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