May 20, 2004

Surviving a Trip to Mars

[via Gravity Lens] Marianne Frey considers the challenges of spaceflight to human physiology and psychology in Astrobiology Magazine and concludes, "A much greater level of commitment and of funding for biomedical research and countermeasure research and development must be made than has ever existed before."

Frey argues that there are four distinct sources of risk:
First, the reduced gravity environment. From almost zero to about 1/3 earth's gravity, which will cause fluid shifts in the body, loss of normal stress on the bones and muscles, and changes in stimuli to the nervous system.

Second, the environment inside the vehicle or habitat poses threats from floating particles, which might be inspired. Toxic wastes, poor illumination, loud noise and poor thermal control.

Third, the environment outside the vehicle or habitat poses threats, including radiation and meteorites or other debris.

And fourth, the psychological and psychosocial stresses will be extreme.

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