(HorizonPost.com) – Generally speaking, people tend to think of Mars as the next step for humanity’s exploration of the solar system. A study recently published in the peer-reviewed journal, Space Watch, indicates the idea is viable, but “a potential mission to Mars should not exceed approximately 4 years.”
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) August 26, 2021
The scientists base their conclusions on the amount of space radiation a human body can safely absorb and the existing technology for shielding any spacecraft to protect the occupants. The study looked at two kinds of radiation hazardous to humans:
- Solar energetic particles (SEP) originating from the Sun.
- Galactic cosmic rays (GCR) traveling over vast distances from other galaxies.
The researchers from Germany, Russia, and the United States concluded any mission should launch when the Sun is at its most active (a.k.a. “solar maximum”) to limit the effect of GCR. The paper also says the best combination in the near future of flight times — roughly 9 months — and solar maximum would be in 2030 and 2050.
The models used by scientists also provided insight into how to strike a balance in the thickness of any shielding built into a potential spacecraft. While one might think thicker is better, the tests suggest if the materials are too thick, they could actually create a different form of radiation that could threaten the tissues and organs in a person’s body.
Are humans headed to Mars anytime soon? If this research is any indication, the answer could be an intergalactic yes.
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