Cosmic radiation levels limit Mars visits to just once-in-a-lifetime tour, says scientist

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MOSCOW, August 15. /TASS/. During the flight to Mars astronauts receive the maximum permissible dose of radiation of 1,000 millisieverts (mSv), so it would be possible to travel to the Red Planet only once in a lifetime, Head of radiation safety of space flights at the Institute of Biomedical Problems, Russian Academy of Sciences, Vyacheslav Shurshakov said in an interview with TASS.

According to him, today there are strict standards for how much radiation an astronaut can take in his entire career – 1,000 mSv. “Strictly speaking, if you take these standards, astronauts can fly to Mars only once in their lifetime – there and back again. They would receive that dose in roughly one flight to the Red Planet (about 1000 mSv – TASS), which means they cannot be sent there again,” Shurshakov said.

The scientist also noted that in about a year of an orbital trip on the International Space Station, a person faces about 220 mSv. At the same time, an employee of a nuclear power plant receives up to 20 mSv per year, and a regular person in his life receives about 1 mSv per year.

“Radiation reduced an average life span. Scientists have calculated that with a dose of 1,000 mSv, the average life expectancy of astronauts will be reduced by no more than 3 years,” Shurshakov said.

In addition, according to him, heavy charged particles (carbon, oxygen, iron nuclei) can have a particularly damaging effect on the central nervous system of a person, which is why astronauts may experience deviations in cognitive activity: memory, coordination, and operator functions are impaired. “Flying to Mars astronauts can face serious problems with the central nervous system due to the influence of galactic heavy particles,” Shurshakov said.

During a flight into deep space, a person will be affected by galactic and solar-proton radiation. The intensity of the latter increases sharply during solar flares.


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