Science: The risks facing humans who may get to Mars

The Story:

A study by scientists affiliated with the University of California at Los Angeles indicates that although human settlement on the surface of Mars may be feasible, there will be serious health issues for the settlers, including some that aren’t usually considered in discussions of that possibility.


Human space travel has been much in the news of late. Three distinct projects of private-enterprise flight, led by three distinct and equally flamboyant billionaires, have helped keep it so. The general assumption is that humans, under private or public auspices, can get back to the moon readily, and that the next step after that will be the surface of Mars. The UCLA study is a “what is?” working from that assumption.

The paper appears in the journal Space Weather.

Strange New Worlds:

The UCLA team sees human habitation of Mars for brief periods as feasible, provided that the spacecraft has sufficient shielding and the round trip is shorter than approximately four years. A trip that took four years or longer would entail a dangerous amount of exposure to radioactive particles. (Particles from outside our solar system are seen by these scientists as a greater danger than anything from our sun.)


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