SUSAN DONALDSON JAMES
January 1, 2013
Space travel has always been portrayed as risky — no air or water, extreme temperatures — a place where even a small miscalculation can be fatal. It can also be hazardous to your brain health, particularly on a three-year-long mission to Mars, according to a study published this week in the scientific journal PLOS ONE.
The eight-year long study, conducted at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory on New York’s Long Island, found that the cosmic radiation on such a mission could accelerate the onset of Alzheimer’s disease.
NASA is working on sending astronauts to a passing asteroid in the 2020s, and talks of a trip to Mars in the 2030s. It would take three years, with current technology, to get there and back. Current spacecraft are not heavily shielded from the cosmic radiation crew members would encounter beyond Earth’s protective magnetic field.