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Mars Science

Trip To Mars Could Damage Astronauts' Brains 505

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the need-faster-spaceships dept.
Hugh Pickens writes writes "Alex Knapp reports that research by a team at the Rochester Medical Center suggests that exposure to the radiation of outer space could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer's disease in astronauts. 'Galactic cosmic radiation poses a significant threat to future astronauts... Exposure to ... equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer's disease' says M. Kerry O'Banio. Researchers exposed mice with known timeframes for developing Alzheimer's to the type of low-level radiation that astronauts would be exposed to over time on a long space journey. The mice were then put through tests that measured their memory and cognitive ability and the mice exposed to radiation showed significant cognitive impairment. It's not going to be an easy problem to solve, either. The radiation the researchers used in their testing is composed of highly charged iron particles, which are relatively common in space. 'Because iron particles pack a bigger wallop it is extremely difficult from an engineering perspective to effectively shield against them,' says O'Banion. 'One would have to essentially wrap a spacecraft in a six-foot block of lead or concrete.'"
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Trip To Mars Could Damage Astronauts' Brains

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  • by I Read Good (2348294) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:06PM (#42451303)

    Yeah, you're right. We should just give up.

  • By definition terraforming will do exactly that.

    " Establishing even the smallest of colonies out there will take orders of magnitude more resources than it will take to solve even the worst problems here."
    no it wont, and , of course being able to do that means you need the tech that would also solve a lot of problems here

    "There is no escape. "

    I look forward to reading you published paper that ties all physics together and definitive proves chemical fuels are the only way we will ever be able to travel.

    What's that? you don't have one? well then, STFU.

  • The Trap, Yourself (Score:5, Insightful)

    by SuperKendall (25149) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:12PM (#42451385)

    No amount of engineering, terraforming, or any other science fiction magic will ever make any other body within human reach survivable for long

    Space is far more hostile than any planet, and we can manage to survive up there for quite a long time.

    Terraforming is not "magic", and small scale examples of humans changing conditions where they live abound.

    Even the most hostile environments on earth usually have at least SOME oxygen, water, soil, air pressure

    The moon even has most of those.

    Mars has all of them.

    no colony out there could survive for long without constant support from earth.

    They will not if you never try.

    We are stuck here. There is no escape.

    You might be, but all the trapping being done is by your own mind, not any kind of scientific basis.

  • by na1led (1030470) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:16PM (#42451427)
    The same was said before Christopher Columbus. People feared the vast ocean just as much as we do space. It's just another obstacle to overcome.
  • by sinterklahaas (2805863) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:21PM (#42451521)
    I suppose you also regret giving up alchemy. Finding a cheap way to convert lead to gold is probably easier than flying to another star. Don't think of it as "giving up". Rather think of it as postponing until somebody happens to stumble on some breakthrough scientific discoveries.
  • by PPH (736903) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:29PM (#42451643)

    Its all about exposure time. The longest Apollo mission lasted about two weeks. Mars missions will last many months, possibly a year or more.

  • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:30PM (#42451673) Journal

    The sensible thing to do is to build the craft in space. Then the mass of the vehicle really isn't that much of an overarching concern.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:40PM (#42451793)

    Are you a complete an utter moron? Moderation in no way took away your right to free speech. Heck, deleting your comment would not be a violation of your rights either, but that would be harder to explain to you.

    Your comment added nothing to the discussion, and you got modded down. Get over it and quit crying.

  • by RogueLeaderX (845092) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:41PM (#42451813)

    Wish I had mod points for this one.

    Personally, I see asteroid mining as a critical first step in this endeavor. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_mining [wikipedia.org]

    Once we learn how to acquire the materials needed from rocks already in space (thus negating the fuel requirements to get it there) it becomes much easier to construct the types of environments needed to support human life in space. Which, until we learn how to generate magnetic shielding like the earth has (ha!), likely means a 6' concrete exoskeleton. Maybe we'll start out by hollowing out a few asteroids and sticking propulsion systems / access hatches on them.

  • by cellocgw (617879) <cellocgw@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:47PM (#42451903) Journal

    The same was said before Christopher Columbus. People feared the vast ocean just as much as we do space.

    More ignorance from the dumbed-down history (i.e. nonsense) we get in school.
    In fact, all the educated folk, and all sea captains, were well aware that the world was round. They had decent estimates of its size, and since they did NOT know about the "new world" continents, were quite correct in telling Columbus he could not survive a trip from Europe west to China. The ships of the time did not have the storage capacity to stay at sea long enough.

  • by crazyjj (2598719) * on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:50PM (#42451933)

    I fucking hate when people make that thoughtless analogy. Christopher Columbus lived in a time when sea travel was well-understood. He traveled a little longer than most others traveled, to an island where there was food and fresh water, and then back again. You could colonize the New World in those days because the New World, while not as developed was still BASICALLY THE SAME as the old world. Oxygen didn't suddenly disappear when you crossed the ocean, water was still present, food could still be grown in the soil, the forests still had wild game. Aside from cities and better roads, it was THE SAME.

    For a more proper analogy, imagine Christopher Columbia launching himself into an the magma flow of an active volcano to establish a colony there or announcing that he was journeying to the deepest part of the Mariana Trench to establish deep-sea colonies.

  • by Brett Buck (811747) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:52PM (#42451955)

    People have been pushing this sort of foolishness since the beginning of the space age. Man under zero g would panic because he is falling, his heart would stop, it would cause him to suffere sever vertigo, etc. Virtually all of it has proved to be nonsensical, the few exceptions were not predicted ahead of time. If it was left to people like you, we would still be living in fear of steam engines or fast horse rides.

  • by ByteSlicer (735276) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:53PM (#42451965)

    Space is far more hostile than any planet

    No, it is not.
    Surviving in space is far more easy than surviving on (among others):
    - the surface of Venus (extreme temperature and pressure, acid atmosphere)
    - the methane clouds of Jupiter (extreme gravity, pressure, radiation)
    - the bottom of Earth's oceans (extreme pressure, darkness, salt corrosion)

  • by CanHasDIY (1672858) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:57PM (#42452033) Homepage Journal

    We are stuck here. There is no escape.

    You might be, but all the trapping being done is by your own mind, not any kind of scientific basis.

    Talk is cheap. Show me your spaceship.

    Replace "spaceship" with "aeroplane" and you'd fit right in with Orville and Wilbur's dissenters.

  • by Sperbels (1008585) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @12:58PM (#42452045)

    No amount of engineering, terraforming, or any other science fiction magic will ever make any other body within human reach survivable for long, and certainly not without HEAVY and CONSTANT support from earth.

    Seems to be similar to ridiculous statements like:
    “Heavier-than-air flying machines are impossible.” — Lord Kelvin

    “The energy produced by the breaking down of the atom is a very poor kind of thing. Anyone who expects a source of power from the transformation of these atoms is talking moonshine.” — Ernest Rutherford, shortly after splitting the atom for the first time.

    “There is practically no chance communications space satellites will be used to provide better telephone, telegraph, television, or radio service inside the United States.” — T. Craven, FCC Commissioner

    “To place a man in a multi-stage rocket and project him into the controlling gravitational field of the moon where the passengers can make scientific observations, perhaps land alive, and then return to earth - all that constitutes a wild dream worthy of Jules Verne. I am bold enough to say that such a man-made voyage will never occur regardless of all future advances.” — Lee DeForest

    And it goes on and on.

  • by SlippyToad (240532) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:13PM (#42452227)

    We have ion and NERVA rockets that are designed, have worked, and are much more efficient than chemical fuels.

    In fact, the NERVA rocket could have easily taken us to Mars in the 1970's, but was (In a fit of hysterical irony) killed to "save the budget" of the US. In other words, it was feared that we'd spend all our money doing something silly like exploring Mars, rather than our preferred activity of wasting it murdering people in foreign nations for no god-damn reason at all.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:18PM (#42452297)

    Strawman. You sound like a creationist. Realism is not the same as despair. Just as there is beauty and meaning in science, there is beauty and meaning in the fact that we only have one planet. It implies a lot of things about the ways we need to improve society and even humanity. It invokes hope - true hope, not the false hope of "oh well this planet is screwed but on the next planet WE'LL GET IT ALL RIGHT YOU'LL SEE" (or "don't worry because heaven").

  • by dkleinsc (563838) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @01:35PM (#42452487) Homepage

    Christopher Columbus lived in a time when sea travel was well-understood. He traveled a little longer than most others traveled, to an island where there was food and fresh water, and then back again. You could colonize the New World in those days because the New World, while not as developed was still BASICALLY THE SAME as the old world.... Aside from cities and better roads, it was THE SAME.

    Actually, the only reason Christopher Columbus survived his journey was sheer luck: He had no reason whatsoever to think the Americas existed, and all the intelligentsia of his day knew that the journey he was proposing (sail west to Asia from Europe) was a fool's errand because the Earth was much larger than Columbus was claiming. If everything had gone as the smart guys had thought it was going to, he and his crew would have died of disease and starvation somewhere around 170W longitude.

    Another major reason colonization worked was because there were people living there before the Europeans showed up. For example, without the Arawaks, Columbus and his crew would have had no clue which of the strange plants and animals he was encountering were safe to eat. The Jamestown and Plymouth colonies nearly died of starvation as well, because most of the new arrivals had no knowledge whatsoever of how to farm.

    Also, the New World had cities: Tenochtitlan had approximately 200,000 people in the 1500s, which made it a bit larger than Paris, Constantinople, and other major European cities.

  • by KingSkippus (799657) on Wednesday January 02, 2013 @02:07PM (#42452805) Homepage Journal

    Seriously? "Stumble upon" science? Man, I'm glad you had no authority in the Apollo program.

    The idea is that you don't wait for these technologies to serendipitously come along, you go research and find them. Maybe your success will be limited, but in the process, you will probably stumble upon things that will be useful in other fields. In this day and age when we're approaching ecological disasters and energy crises, I think that a lot of the technology researched in working on a manned mission to Mars would be very useful in other fields.

"There is nothing new under the sun, but there are lots of old things we don't know yet." -Ambrose Bierce

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