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Mars Medicine Space Science

Disease May Prevent Manned Journey To Mars 177

Pickens writes "Science Daily News reports that human missions to Mars and all other long-term space flights might be compromised by disease, first because space travel appears to weaken astronauts' immune systems; and second, because it increases the virulence and growth of microbes. 'When people think of space travel, often the vast distances are what come to mind first,' says Jean-Pol Frippiat from Nancy-University in France, 'but even after we figure out a way to cover these distances in a reasonable amount of time, we still need to figure out how astronauts are going to overcome disease and sickness.' Frippiat says studies show that immune systems of both people and animals in space flight conditions are significantly weaker than their grounded counterparts and that common pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli and Staphylococcus reproduce more rapidly in space flight conditions, leading to increased risk of contamination, colonization and serious infection."
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Disease May Prevent Manned Journey To Mars

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  • two words... (Score:3, Informative)

    by lannocc ( 568669 ) <> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:18AM (#29933025) Homepage
    Diversified ecosystem.
  • Re:two words... (Score:5, Informative)

    by tomhudson ( 43916 ) <barbara.hudson@b ... u d s o n . c om> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @05:33AM (#29933065) Journal

    WTF? How is a first post mentioning a "diversified ecosystem" redundant? Your immune system responds better if there are constant challenges to it, which is what a diversified ecosystem does. It also tends to help keep pathogens numbers down, since even pathogens have predators/competitors in a diversified ecosystem.

  • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Informative)

    by ikedasquid ( 1177957 ) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:19AM (#29933215)
    Quick wikipedia search results in: The longest stay in space was 438 days, by Russian Valeri Polyakov onboard Mir. Separate search for time (one way) earth to mars is in the range 6 - 9 months. The trip would require O2 production and CO2 scrubbers or some equivalent. The scrubbers used in industry and on submarines are generally toxic to people (and presumably to microbes) or get really hot. Either way I think the idea of cleansing the air to reduce illness would be trivial. Bring plenty of hand sanitizer and I think it'll be under control.
  • Re:MiR? ISS? (Score:4, Informative)

    by kdemetter ( 965669 ) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @06:44AM (#29933261)

    That brings another problem : if you keep the environment completely pathogen free , the immunity of the people there will drop significantly , since it is not being stimulated.
    So , when they come home , they will immediately get sick.

  • by cobbaut ( 232092 ) <> on Saturday October 31, 2009 @09:55AM (#29934133) Homepage Journal

    There is no microbiological difference between orbiting the Earth and going to Mars

    Yes there is, ISS gets air resupply regularly!!

  • Use Nuclear rockets (Score:2, Informative)

    by Purpendicular ( 528740 ) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @09:59AM (#29934165)
    It is really sad that nuclear rockets were abandoned when the space race was won by the US against the Russians. Nuclear rockets consist of a reactor that heats hydrogen that is accelerated.
    A nuclear rocket would take 3 months to get to mars, 3 months back. Back in 1970, 400 M $ were missing to get the first one off the ground as a third stage of an Apollo rocket.
    The theoretical useful weight for a nuclear rocket is 38% of the total that can go up in space, compared to 4% for a chemical rocket.
    Nerva-2 would have developped 5000 MW and 90 tonnes of lift. Nerva-1 had already been tested on the ground. 1100 MW and 25 ton lift.
    As soon as the Chinese threaten to do this, the US might be back in the race. One can always hope.
    The plan in the early 1970ies was to send two of these off to Mars (for obvious redundancy purposes).
  • Re:rotate it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Rick17JJ ( 744063 ) on Saturday October 31, 2009 @02:18PM (#29935913)
    If the diameter of the circle of the rotation is large enough, the astronauts would not get motion sickness. Back in the 1970s, I read that a space station of about 1 mile in diameter, could be rotated at 1 G gravity without making the people inside seasick.

    Instead of making the spaceship that large, they could attach the living quarters to each end of a very long cable, and then slowly rotate the ship. In the center of the cable, they could place a zero-G section which would contain sensors, and possibly the propulsion system and other equipment.

    The long cable could be made out of some type of super strong light weight material, such as some type of carbon fibers.

    There is also the question of how much artificial gravity would be needed to protect the astronauts health. If it is significantly less than 1 G, they could use a shorter cable or rotate the ship more slowly.

    There is also the question of to what extent the astronauts bodies might possibly be able to get used to a certain amount of motion. Perhaps, they should ask sailers or fighter pilots, if their resistance to seasickness has improved, or not.

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