Will Mutants Confine Humans to Earth?
Will mutant organisms encountered in space flight confine humans to the Earth? New questions arise with regard to the viability of manned space flight to Mars.
Aboard spaceships without advanced medical care, illness could cripple human missions to Mars and beyond, according to a new report published this month in the Journal of Leukocyte Biology. (Get Mars exploration pictures, facts, and more.)
"What is the interest of having people on Mars if they cannot efficiently perform the analyses and studies scheduled during their mission?" said study co-author Jean-Pol Frippiat, an immunologist at Nancy University in France.
This new study points out the possible problems that face astronauts when they leave the protective forcefield surrounding Earth. The magnetic field that surrounds the Earth acts as a giant protective layer deflecting charged particles towards the polar regions resulting in the phenomenon known as Northern Lights or Aurora Borealis. Cosmic rays are high energy particles that can damage the genetic material in cells. Sometimes this is referred to as the Solar Wind. Once astronauts leave Earth for Mars they forfeit the protective forcefield.
The assault on the health of the astronauts is speculated to be a one/two punch. Weightlessness suppresses the immune system. Bacteria that all healthy humans carry can mutate easily and with cosmic radiation are much more likely to do so, turning them from benign hitchhikers to deadly killers.
NASA is working to overcome these threats to astronauts health by various means including boosting the immune system and reducing the time spent exposed to cosmic radiation.
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