When 17 people were in orbit around Earth all at the same time on May 30, 2023, setting a record. With NASA and other federal space agencies planning more manned missions and commercial companies putting humans into space, opportunities for human space travel are expanding rapidly.
However, space travel poses risks for the human organism. Because NASA wants to send a pilot mission to mars in the 1930s, scientists must find solutions to these dangers sooner rather than later.
I spent years as a kinesiologist working with astronauts study the effects space can have on the body and brain. I am also involved in a NASA project that aims to mitigate health risks that participants in a future mission to Mars may face.
Earth has a protective shield called a magnetospherewhich is the region of space around a planet that is controlled by its magnetic field. This shield filters out cosmic radiation. Astronauts traveling further than the International Space Station, however, will face continued exposure to this radiation—the equivalent of 150 and 6000 chest x-rays.
This radiation can cause damage nervous and cardiovascular system counting on it heart and arteries, which leads to cardiovascular disease. Moreover, it can cause the blood-brain barrier to leak. This can expose the brain to chemicals and proteins that are harmful to it—compounds that are safe in the blood but toxic to the brain.
NASA is developing technology that can shield passengers on a Mars mission from radiation by embedding deflecting materials such as Kevlar and polyethylene. space vehicles and spacesuits. Some diets and dietary supplements such as enterade it can also minimize the effects of radiation. Supplements like this, also used in cancer patients on Earth during radiation therapy, can reduce the gastrointestinal side effects of radiation exposure.