The different space agencies that operate around the world are still planning to send missions to Mars in the coming years. However, there is a topic that few people talk about, the negative effects that these trips could bring to the health of the astronauts who are chosen.
A group of Russian researchers was given the task of calculating what would be the consequences of radiation in the human organism who have been exposed to prolonged flights of up to two and three years, the average time that missions to Mars could last.
“The radiation accumulated by a cosmonaut with a shield is 7.5%, which is a reduction of two and a half years of life expectancy,” said the experts, who calculated these effects under the assumptions that the astronauts would be traveling in a spherical spacecraft, with liquid fuel propellant and for a round trip of approximately two years.
Faced with this situation, the scientists propose that astronauts use sleeping bags filled with water or gel, with the aim of protecting them from radiation. “One of the possibilities would be to use sleeping bags filled with water, with gel or plastic particles,” was the recommendation they made.
According to the explanation given by the specialists, water and polyethylene contain light elements, including hydrogen, which are essential to protect neutrons effectively. So they ensure that, for eight hours of sleep a day, the body would be protected against radiation.
Another of the scientists’ recommendations was that cosmonauts drink mineral water without preservatives and free of ions, which intensify the pathogenic effect of ionizing radiation.
Other aspects that could favor possible long-term trips in space were also pointed out, such as the creation of space greenhouses that can produce lettuce and carrots to give astronauts vitamins and basic fibers.