Feeds

back to article Deep-space travel bad for astronauts' tickers, say boffins

Deep-space travel could be bad for the heart, report boffins. This has been established by blasting mice with an ion beam from a powerful atom-smasher, causing the luckless murines to develop artery damage of the sort that might result from exposure to powerful cosmic space radiation. "Cosmic radiation is very different from X- …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
Anonymous Coward

mouse-zilla

It's in New York, right? So why should we care about a super power mouse over there or can they swim?!

1
0
Silver badge

swim?!

What if they fly???

2
0
Happy

But..

"In fact the only people who have ever travelled beyond the Earth's protective magnetic fields are the 24 US astronauts who landed on or orbited the Moon during the Apollo missions of the 1960s and 70s."

Actually the Earth's magnetic field is so big that its influence even stretches out to include the Moon, albeit with a reduced and seemingly somewhat variable level of protection. The big problem comes when you go to another planet and completely leave the protective barrier, though several potential man-made shields are being developed that could solve this.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Call me picky but

"The radiation risks of deep-space travel are difficult to predict, largely because so few people have been exposed."

If you need people to be exposed in order to predict what happens when people are exposed, I would suggest it is no longer a prediction, just extrapolation of data.

0
0

Hmmmm

I have a sneaking suspicion that this is nothing more than people finding uses for a particle accelerator they just happened to have lying around the place and they're now trying to explain the electricity bill to their bosses.

1
0
Boffin

Iron ions? Heh.

Reminds me of Look Around You:

"This is a model of an Iron molecule, and this is a model of a model of an Iron molecule, modelled in Iron."

1
0
Silver badge
Alert

Still waiting for a hearty Fukushima update...

I have people around me that have the ironclad belief that "hundreds have died" and "millions will die" and are convinced that the Pacific ocean is currently glowing in the dark with whales pumping out their last whalesong. They are actually refusing to go to Tokyo in the summer.

I needs fresh clarification material, although the earlier dose seems to not have helped.

0
1
Gold badge
Coat

@D-A-M

Easy one. Get the lads on the ISS to point out that they can't see any suspiciously whale-shaped patches of luminosity next time they pass over the pacific at night.......

0
0
MrT
Bronze badge

Whales...

...swimming near Japan must qualify as an extreme sport for cetaceans - or was the whaling fleet washed away too?

Here's hoping...

0
0
Silver badge
Stop

Don't go!

I think that if anyone goes to Mars they will die.

If you're in a submarine stranded on the the sea bed you have a hope of being rescued.

The same could be said if you were in Earth orbit and maybe just possibly if you were stuck on the Moon.

However nobody can simulate the feeling of utter helplessness and isolation that you would feel on Mars.

It would only take one crew member to crack up and start pressing buttons to kill everyone on the mission.

It would be better to wait until autonomous robots are sophisticated enough to build habitats on the Moon before attempting such a suicidal attempt to go to Mars.

0
3
Silver badge
Pint

By Larry Niven: The Hole Man

"On Earth, Andrew Lear's habits would have been no more than a character trait. In a hurry, he might choose mismatched socks. He might put off using the dishwasher for a day or two if he were involved in something interesting. He would prefer a house that looked "lived in." God help the maid who tried to clean up his study. He'd never be able to find anything afterward.

He was a brilliant but one-sided man. Backpacking or skin diving might have changed his habits—in such pursuits you learn not to forget any least trivial thing— but they would never have tempted him. An expedition to Mars was something he simply could not turn down. A pity, because neatness is worth your life in space.

You don't leave your fly open in a pressure suit.

A month after the landing, Childrey caught Lear doing just that.

The "fly" on a pressure suit is a soft rubber tube over your male member. It leads to a bladder, and there's a spring clamp on it. You open the clamp to use it. Then you close the clamp and open an outside spigot to evacuate the bladder into vacuum.

Similar designs for women involve a catheter, which is hideously uncomfortable. I presume the designers will keep trying. It seems wrong to bar half the human race from our ultimate destiny.

Lear was addicted to long walks. He loved the Martian desert scene: the hard violet sky and the soft blur of whirling orange dust, the sharp close horizon, the endless emptiness. More: he needed the room. He was spending all his working time on the alien communicator, with the ceiling too close over his head and everything else too close to his bony elbows.

He was coming back from a walk, and he met Childrey coming out. Childrey noticed that the waste spigot on Lear's suit was open, the spring broken. Lear had been out for hours. If he'd had to go, he might have bled to death through flesh ruptured by vacuum.

We never learned all that Childrey said to him out there. But Lear came in very red about the ears, muttering under his breath. He wouldn't talk to anyone.

The NASA psychologists should not have put them both on that small a planet. Hindsight is wonderful, right? But Lear and Childrey were each the best choice for competence coupled to the kind of health they would need to survive the trip. There were astrophysicists as competent and as famous as Lear, but they were decades older. And Childrey had a thousand spaceflight hours to his credit. He had been one of the last men on the moon.

Individually, each of us was the best possible man. It was a damn shame."

1
0

Mars is just the most recent frontier

Not that much different from any explorer in the 17th and 18th centuries.

0
0

Do go?

I'm thankful every day that some people are willing to risk their lives for progress. Without them, we'd probably be stuck in dark caves, 'cause fire burns. We'd most certainly be stuck in Old Europe. So, if astronauts are willing, then by all means stop them for reasons of cost if that is the case, but don't stop them for reasons of their own safety. We don't have the right to tell healthy adults what risks they can take.

1
0
Silver badge

Ohhh, meh...

"I think that if anyone goes to Mars they will die."

And everyone who stays here on Earth will also die - what a conundrum!

"However nobody can simulate the feeling of utter helplessness and isolation that you would feel on Mars."

So, send more people then, so that they don't feel lonely.

"It would only take one crew member to crack up and start pressing buttons to kill everyone on the mission."

Face meets palm!....

a) What is the likelihood of that occurring with a select and highly trained crew?

b) So what if that happens? Send another crew. There is no shortage of humans here, where we live.

c) People get killed all the time here (run over by a bus or hit by a tsunami) - what do you propose?

0
0
Silver badge

@Vladimir Plouzhinkov

a) What is the likelihood of that occurring with a select and highly trained crew?

Human psychology, it never changes.

Example: A highly trained crew goes to Mars and one is given a shovel and a cement mixer and told to build a habitat. So he gets hot and sweaty working in a spacesuit while another crew member is "busy" checking instruments and drinking coffee in the ship.

In the past, how many times did ships crews mutiny at sea for similar reasons?

Add the stress factor of being so far from Earth.

That's why I said that until robots are clever enough to do the dirty work, it will end in tears.

See HMS Astute for details.

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

If you're going to quote Larry Niven...

You'd probably like Lost in Transmission by Wil McCarthy. Wil's solution was all storage ahead, and all personnel behind. Of course, only those required for operations, everyone else was on disk.

The book jacket (I have a prerelease copy) compares his book to (among others) Pratchett & Niven.

0
0
Silver badge

@Mystic Megabyte

"See HMS Astute for details."

See HMS for what details? A disgruntled seaman shooting an officer?

Is that a reason enough to not ever going to sea now? Or wait until we can have robots clever enough to make the sea "safe"?

Will HMS Astute be scrapped now? It may, because we may run out of money, but certainly it won't be just because of that incident.

As I mentioned in my previous post - what do you propose? Ban all buses after one overturns? Wait until they make aeroplanes safe before going on holidays? Stop building houses on the seaside because there may be a tsunami? Should people stop using the Tube after 7/7? Do you need a clever robot to check the way is safe before you leave your house to go to work (it may be more dangerous than a space mission, with all the road crossings, crazy cyclists and poorly assembled scaffolding)?

Anyway, what makes dying on Mars so much worse than dying on Earth?

"Add the stress factor of being so far from Earth."

Speak for yourself, please. Other people may not consider being far from Earth as stressful as you fear they might.

0
0

Particle radiation shielding

Have the boffins in question considered anything with, say, hydrogen atoms in it? Like the water supply the astronauts will have to bring with them? Surprisingly good shield against both neutron and high velocity particle radiation.

Alternatively, there are a number of plastics out on the market that are quite efficient at stopping these types of radiation as well. No need to go all the way to high powered electromagnetic fields to stop a little radiation.

0
0
MrT
Bronze badge

Use ice...

... as an ablation shield - would serve the same purpose. However, it would need topping up - as would the astronauts' drinking water (not all can be reclaimed).

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Shielding

There have been papers on using magnetic shielding for long range manned craft. This would give similar protection as the earth magnetic field. The downside being the amount of power required to run the field. A small reactor would be required for just the shield alone. Add to that the ion drive they have been talking about, power for life support, and general ship handling it becomes not so small anymore.

I'm certain once we get a small working thorium reactor the problem will be solvable. Or course getting the money to reopen research on that type of reactor is a much larger problem.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

27 Astronauts

It is 27 astronauts who have been to the moon. Nine flights. Apollo 8,10,11,12,13,14,15,16,17

0
0

Nope - some went twice

I thought as you did, it must be 27 (3 X 9), but some astronauts went twice, e.g. IIRC Jim Lovell was on both Apollos 8 & 13.

So 24 is probably correct.

0
0
Headmaster

Suggest you watch the movie

Apollo 13, http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0112384/ for a more informed opinion of how many astronauts made it on to the moon. Not every astronaut reaching Luna actually set foot there: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apollo_program

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Where do I sign up?

I'd go tomorrow. I'm going to die some day, I'd just as soon do it on Mars, or even halfway there. If you wait until it's perfectly safe, you'll never go. Send somebody like me, learn from it, and it'll get safer next time.

2
0

There is wisdom in this.

It depends on how much one values one's life.

Myself, I wouldn't go, but I honestly respect those that would.

0
0
Jobs Horns

Oh! What a surprise!

Lying around in zero gravity with no work to do. Of course you get a dick ticker.

0
0
This topic is closed for new posts.