NASA has recently started an institute to study the long-term effect of space travel on the human body, and how to potentially counteract those issues in a potential mission to Mars. Well, it seems those scientists have one more major problem to tackle.
Data from the first long-term study into the health of the Apollo astronauts has revealed those men are five times more likely to die of heart disease, largely due to space radiation that causes damage to blood vessels. The Guardian reports researchers looking into the fate of the Apollo astronauts found those who flew outside low Earth orbit were five times more likely to die of cardiovascular disease.
To put it simply: The report determined that astronauts flying outside of the protective magnetic field around Earth were drastically more likely to suffer long-lasting damage to their cardiovascular systems due to exposure to deep space radiation, even for periods as short as just 1-2 weeks. The study is the first time anyone has looked this closely at the effect on the Apollo astronauts (the last times humans went so far from home), and needless to say, the results are troubling.
The really bad part? We still haven’t figured out how to successfully shield against this radiation in a way that doesn’t make a spacecraft so heavy that it can’t get off the ground. As former astronaut and MIT scientists Jeff Hoffmann notes, that’s a really big problem for any government or space firm hoping to make the first trip to Mars. For a trip like that, the exposure would be much more sustained than what the Apollo crews experienced.
So, yeah, space is still dangerous. Sigh.
(Via The Guardian)