back to article Astronauts on long-haul space flights risk getting 'space brains'

Astronauts flying to Mars are in danger of long-term brain damage and dementia from the onslaught of radiation in galactic cosmic rays, according to a new study. The paper, published today in Nature's Scientific Reports, raises alarm for NASA’s future plans in long-term space travel. Researchers from the University of …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    Surely the morons who want a one way ticket to Mars already have brain problems?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Those downvotes! This had me audibly chortling.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Some people would do anything to get off this godforsaken rock.

      1. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Pint

        Your local...

        Your local pub can offer a range of assistance in this department. Failing that, there are some hoodie-wearing kids who hang round the betting shop who I gather can help with the more stubbornly earthbound consciousnesses.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Angel

          Re: Your local...

          I confirm the enlightening power of going full space brain here on dEarth!

  2. Warm Braw Silver badge

    More reason to boot Donald Trump into space

    If elected, will it be the Donald or the rocket that gets the title "Hair Force One"?

    1. Bowlers

      Re: More reason to boot Donald Trump into space

      Shouldn't that be "Hair Farce One"?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: More reason to boot Donald Trump into space

        Won't he rename it to Air Trump One?

        Oh, wait.

    2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
      Boffin

      Get Real..

      Trump is an easy read. He is very thin skinned and he talks in hyperboles. So you learn to take what he says with a grain of salt and don't take him literally.

      Clinton? She is a complete work of trash.

      Setting up her private server as a matter of convenience? Really?

      How many out here have and set up their own email server? And are still running it?

      Brother it ain't convenient. Getting a hotmail or a gmail account is much easier.

      As more documents from the fbi investigation and the leaks from ASSange, we learn that not only the fix was in, but that the Clinton campaign attempted to rig the RNC and the press to push the Republicans to the right. The press were in collusion (well some of them) to get trump the nod...

      But unfortunately we can't change that. We have to choose between Trump/Pence and Clinton/Kaine and it's an easy choice. Trump is the least harmful of the two and Pense seems to be the most Presidential of the four.

      Clinton is a criminal. You can't spin the email scandal that is still unfolding and the only reason she isn't on trial is thanks to Obama and Biden not running. Had Biden ran... Hillary would have been indicted.

      But I digress... Trump in space? Sorry but the Muppets beat you too it.

      See Pigs in Spaaaace!!!

      1. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

        Re: Get Real..

        I have set up several email servers and still use them. This is a techie site, so I am sure many of the commentards here have done done likewise. Reading the friendly manual and following the instructions is so simple that even a Republican could do it. It is so convenient to be able to send emails from inside my own software without having to curl my way through some web interface that changes with the phase of the moon. Imagine you work in an environment where clueless colleagues could send you unencrypted classified documents. Gmail and Hotmail simply would not be an option.

        Please go and work for Trump - and not get paid. While your at it, do some quick web searches for Trump hotel in Russia, Paul Manafort, Trump illegal deals with Cuba, Pam Bondi, the Trump foundation bribing Attorney Generals and Trump University.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Get Real..

          Get real, I doubt the Manchurian candidate is interested in your emails, but you seem dumb enough to set this up for Clinton and want a pat on the back 'cause the servers sending and receiving emails just like it should.

        2. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

          Re: Get Real..

          LOL... little boy.

          Cookbooking a mail server isn't the smartest thing to do and since you mentioned it... Her IT guy, with little experience put an unsecured Windows NT Exchange server on the net. While it was up and running... security was an issue. Even El Reg posted some articles on it.

          As to Trump... he never broke any laws or violated the US's National Security. When you have 100's of former military officers and DoD employees who say that they would be in jail for what Clinton did... you have to start to think that the FBI investigation was fixed. Oh wait. More emails being released from the State Dept along with the FBI notes do point to this... What's the stuff Assange has? We'll just have to see.

          Trump may be a lot of things... but to be sure... he's less harmful to the US than Clinton.

          As to Trump's deals... yeah... I can look at old articles in the Chicago Tribune about the clawbacks he did on the 'friends and families' contracts... Oh yeah... he's no Saint. However he's no criminal like Hillary. ... Note: We haven't even talked about her illegal arms deal in Libya... Do you really want to continue?

      2. Yugguy

        Re: Get Real..

        Hilary Clinton goes to a gifted-student primary school in New York to talk about the world. After her talk she offers question time.

        One little boy puts up his hand. Hillary asks him what his name is. "Kenneth," he says And what is your question, Kenneth?" she asks.

        I have three questions," he says.

        "1st -- whatever happened in Benghazi?

        2nd -- why would you run for president if you are not capable of handling two e-mail accounts?

        And, 3rd -- whatever happened to the missing six-billion-dollars while you were Secretary of State?"

        Just then the bell rings for recess. Hillary informs the kiddies that they will continue after recess.

        When they resume Hillary says, "Okay, where were we? Oh, that's right, question time. Who has a question?"

        A different boy -- little Johnny -- puts his hand up.

        Hillary points to him and asks him what his name is. "Johnny," he says.

        "And what is your question, Johnny?" she asks.

        "I have five questions," he says.

        "1st -- whatever happened in Benghazi?

        2nd -- why would you run for president if you are not capable of handling two e-mail accounts?

        3rd -- whatever happened to the missing six-billion dollars while you were Secretary of State?

        4th -- why did the recess bell go off 20 minutes early?"

        And 5th -- where's Kenneth?

      3. Tom Paine Silver badge
        Facepalm

        Re: Get Real..

        No. One. Cares.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Get Real..

          Exactly. I do suggest that no matter who wins, both get put on a rocket the day after the election and fired off to Mars... or maybe Pluto.

          1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge

            Re: Get Real..

            If you don't understand the problem... you will in less than 4 years when the world goes to sh$t.

            The real irony is that Wikileaks showed how the Clinton campaign and the MSM were complicit in getting Trump in to office.

            Its scary.

      4. Florida1920 Silver badge

        Re: Get Real..

        Trump is the least harmful of the two

        Welcome back from your long trip in space!

      5. Sirius Lee

        Re: Get Real..

        Maybe you've already taken a journey in space. Since when has it been a crime to run your own mail server? Of course running a server is a sane hing to do. It's easy as well. I've been running a mail server for years. Much better than letting Google or Microsoft or Facebook pore over your emails.

        I'm sure Mrs Clinton wan't sure about the security of emails that run through government servers either. I imagine there are a kinds of miscreants - and with high-level clearance - that would be only too willing to take a look at all her email correspondence.

      6. quxinot

        Re: Get Real..

        Come on, people.

        You can vote for the criminal or for the loon. This is called choice. Either will become galactic president in the footsteps of Zaphod, and their antics will draw the media's attention away from the endless pork projects, kickbacks, and outright purchasing of votes in Congress.

        But hey, let's keep playing good little sheep and pretend like there's a "choice" here.

  3. M7S

    "So, some sort of hat is probably in order"

    to quote Edmund, Lord Blackadder.

    Aptly from "Potato". Probably worth a re-watch in the circumstances.

  4. qwertyuiop
    WTF?

    What problem?

    Haven't they heard of tin-foil hats? Problem solved!

    1. MAF
      Coat

      Re: What problem?

      When the radiation hits the metal, you get secondary and more energetic radiation.

      Then your troubles REALLY start

      Lead-lined coat - maybe?

      1. MAF

        Re: What problem?

        Useful NASA article here

        http://www.nasa.gov/feature/goddard/real-martians-how-to-protect-astronauts-from-space-radiation-on-mars

        Or you could ask AManFromMars....

      2. Cynic_999 Silver badge

        Re: What problem?

        "

        When the radiation hits the metal, you get secondary and more energetic radiation.

        "

        Are you saying that wearing a tinfoil had will cause paranoia?

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          Re: What problem?

          "Are you saying that wearing a tinfoil had will cause paranoia?"

          Correlation is not automatically causation even when it's 100%.

          1. danR2

            Re: What problem?

            Most of the time, actually. There's a complete correlation between people reading this sentence and their being alive. That's not why they are alive, however (life-enhancing though the sentence may be).

      3. Jimmy2Cows

        Re: What problem?

        Lead-lined coat - maybe?

        Cat: So why don't we just drop the defensive shields!?!

        Kryten: An adroit suggestion, sir, with just two minor flaws. One - we don't have have any defensive shields, and two - we don't have any defensive shields. Now I know technically that's only one flaw, but I thought it was such a big one it was worth mentioning twice.

    2. bombastic bob Silver badge

      Re: What problem?

      Lead-foil hats, lined with borated polyethelyne. needs to be at least an inch thick.

  5. hplasm Silver badge
    Holmes

    Space hats!

    If 50's SciFi taught us nothing else, it is this:- There's a reason they all wear shiny clothes and hats in the future, don't you know!

    1. Dr Who

      Re: Space hats!

      Never mind 50s sci-fi. If the uniforms look anything like this http://bit.ly/2dWu9MK, I'm signing up. (biddi-biddi)

      1. KBeee

        Re: Space hats!

        Naaaaaaaaaa

        But if they looked like this...

        https://www.pinterest.com/explore/ufo-tv-series/

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge
          WTF?

          Re: Space hats!

          But if they looked like this...

          Most of them are just heads floating in space, according to the first two images. While that would save on weight and volume (and food and drink, with again weight and volume savings) how are they going to explore and mine the resources of all those alien worlds they'll be visiting? With a spoon clenched between their teeth?

      2. dbayly

        Re: Space hats!

        Dr Who would look daft dressed like that. Er, even more daft!

  6. Magani
    Joke

    A Good Thing, perhaps?

    "Deficits in fear extinction could make you prone to anxiety," Limoli said...

    I would have thought a deficit of fear extinction was probably a good thing in the circumstances of either getting to Mars or having Trump as President.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Childcatcher

      Re: A Good Thing, perhaps?

      Fear extinction is what you actually want, so that you aren't staying afraid the whole trip to Mars and back. You want that even more for a presidential term for the Orange Turnip, and let's not contemplate having to be on a trip to Mars with him.

      1. This post has been deleted by its author

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Boffin

    Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

    Makes civilization significantly more fault-tolerant. Allows us to develop new resources on the moon. Allows us time to work on the medical science necessary to sustain humans in a space environment we are not designed for. Allows us to build (hopefully) a launch complex on the much lower-gravity/no atmospheric-drag moon environment so that we can build larger and better-shielded interplanetary vehicles. And it gives us time to develop better propulsion technologies.

    Maybe Mars is just a bridge too far right now.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

      Why build on the surface? Getting things down into the (pretty deep) gravity well of the moon is quite a challenge in itself. Better to build stuff in orbit. Which is also not as simple as you'd think. The ISS is an achievement in its own right just for the fact humanity has figured out a way to put something that large in space one bit at a time.

      For illustration Delta-V to LEO is 9400 m/s. Delta-V to the moons surface from LEO is an additional 5670 m/s, Delta-V to the martian surface is 6300 m/s from LEO, compared to getting into orbit in the first place, the difference between going to the moon and going to mars is not that big, but if you are building something big, there is a BIG difference in building it in orbit and building it on the surface in terms of energy required to deliver building materials.

      1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

        "...difference between going to the moon and going to mars is not that big..."

        They'd need more groceries.

        1. Stoneshop Silver badge

          Re: Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

          They'd need more groceries.

          With a base on the moon you can at least stock up on cheese.

      2. DiViDeD Silver badge

        Re: Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

        Actually, the real 'first' smart step has already been taken - LEO.

        Robert Heinlein was asked about this once by a journalist interested in why he used space stations in his stories. After the explanation about Delta V and getting off the surface, the journalist said 'Ah. I see now. Once you're in Low earth orbit, you're halfway to the moon.'

        'No,' replied Heinlein, 'Once you're in LEO you're halfway to ANYWHERE'

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

      I believe the moon is outside the earth's protection as well. Maybe a few days is no problem or Buzz Aldrin et al would all be screwed by now.

    3. Tom Paine Silver badge

      Re: Maybe the smart first step is to colonize the moon

      Maybe the smart step is to remember that Star Trek is a work of fiction.

  8. Ru'
    Angel

    "...and five and 30 centiGrays of titanium atoms at NASA’s Space Radiation Laboratory."

    What about four and 20 blackbirds too?

    1. TRT Silver badge

      They still operate in the radiation protected zone, even if it is really very high up in the stratosphere.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @Ru' ; I think they used them for testing out some form of pastry-based radiation protection.

    3. Semtex451 Silver badge

      Thank you for putting me in mind of a FSMmas carol. I can't wait till FSMmas which is on Friday, and every Friday.

  9. Chris G Silver badge

    All of a piece

    " Imagine that hair in zero-grav."

    It would be exactly the same, its a hair PIECE not pieces, it would be like Dolly Parton's boobs, artificial and non moving

  10. kain preacher Silver badge

    I just don't get why folks at el reg Don;t like trump. trump is what the world needs. Trump represents what is best about America. Just Like Boris Johnson represents the best of the UK. Wait trump and Johnson. they would be the perfect ticket in the US. Trump and Johnson. Grab the world by the pussy.

    1. imanidiot Silver badge

      Not sure if serious...

      or troll?

      (We need a Fry icon)

      1. kain preacher Silver badge

        Re: Not sure if serious...

        I thought it was obvious sarcasm. Be it's true us yanks don't do sarcasm.

        1. Ian Michael Gumby Silver badge
          Boffin

          @kain .... Re: Not sure if serious...

          No, the Americans do sarcasm. It's the Germans who don't.

          The problem is that most of those across the pond don't know enough about the issue and don't realize that the majority of the press is in Clinton's hip pocket.

          Yes, Hillary is so smart, she can and should charge $500k for an hour talk that requires you to sign a no disclosure before you can hear her speak....

          Now that's sarcasm.

          Btw you won't see Clinton in space. She wouldn't survive the launch. She'd stroke out

          1. bombastic bob Silver badge

            Re: @kain .... Not sure if serious...

            another point, good sarcasm is funny no matter who you support. If a Trump supporter can't laugh at 'Hair Force One' or sending him to Mars, he needs a reality check or something. As for me, I think it's pretty damn funny. Just like calling Mrs. Clinton "Her Royal Heinous" or "mother of lies", right?

            The Donald has made a characature (spelling?) of himself for years, on national media. Is it any wonder he's said one or two things (understatement) that *might* offend someone? So yeah, lots of late night material making fun of the things he's done in public. No problem there.

            The only problems I have is when Trump is completely mischaracterized, and the mischaracterizations are THEN harped on as if they're truth, in an ATTEMPT at humor. But that's pretty much the case for ANYONE who isn't a leftist-communist liberal politically correct "one of them" type, these days...

            In any case, if the rocket to Mars has an orange 'Trump wig' on it (painted or otherwise) I'd be laughing.

            1. Tom Paine Silver badge

              Re: @kain .... Not sure if serious...

              Saying something that offends some people is one thing. People do that on TV every evening after 9pm.

              Boasting about committing multiple sexual assaults is quite another. (You do realise the behaviour as described would get him jail time and a place on the Sex Offender's Register, over here at least?)

              1. kain preacher Silver badge

                Re: @kain .... Not sure if serious...

                Yes I do and it would her, yet trump supporters are say that's not a crime. That's locker room talk all men do it. Not All men talk about sexually assaulting and forcing them self on women. In fact i've yet to find one that does.

        2. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Not sure if serious...

          I thought it was obvious sarcasm. Be it's true us yanks don't do sarcasm.

          Actually, we do sarcasm and can do it well. It's irony we don't do.

          1. Stoneshop Silver badge
            Coat

            Re: Not sure if serious...

            It's irony we don't do.

            Hence the development of self-ironing shirts

          2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Not sure if serious...

            "Actually, we do sarcasm and can do it well. It's irony we don't do."

            On the contrary, many American authors are superb ironists (Mark Twain could be a genius at it.) What you are not so good at doing is coming up with an educational system that doesn't teach the majority that the inability to recognise irony is an All-American virtue.

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: Not sure if serious...

        Serious trolling?

    2. Flocke Kroes Silver badge

      Re Donald / Boris

      I just did a web search for "Farage Trump". Do not try this at home unless you have a bucket handy to catch the vomit.

  11. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
    Pint

    "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

    It's too bad that humans are unable to create and control artificial magnetic fields.

    1. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
      Pint

      Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

      How many had an instinctive thought that such magnetic fields would affect their compass?

      1. bombastic bob Silver badge

        Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

        (Pavel Checkov voice): Kep-tin, the compass is spinnink like ballet dancer...

        I guess they had better radiation shielding in the 22nd century.

        Seriously, though, you need an earth-sized magnetic field to do the job THAT way. high velocity radiation is best blocked by mass, the denser the better [except for neutrons, which need to be thermalized and then absorbed]. So yeah, lead and borated polyethylene.

        Another good shielding option is water. If you can basically put the entire "people tank" inside a water tank, it would be highly effective. If the water tank can be part of a recycling system, it wouldn't be depleted. So for a 3 year Mars mission, the crew spends MOST of their time inside of the shielded 'people tank', surrounded by a foot or more of water on all sides. Water with borax in it.

        [for the unaware, boron absorbs neutrons]

        1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

          Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

          "So for a 3 year Mars mission, the crew spends MOST of their time inside of the shielded 'people tank', surrounded by a foot or more of water on all sides. Water with borax in it.

          [for the unaware, boron absorbs neutrons]"

          But for the uninitiated, don't drink unpurified shielding liquor then start bonking the crewmates to start the Mars population as borax may be linked to birth defects ...

      2. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken Silver badge

        Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

        Never mind the compass, what about my wireless earbuds?

    2. theOtherJT

      Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

      I don't think their point is that this makes space travel impossible, but more that we really need to take seriously the requirement to do just what you suggest - which is not easy*, especially when you're in an energy constrained environment like a space ship. A magnetic field strong enough to deflect cosmic radiation from around the ship would presumably have a significant power requirement.

      * Although possibly easier than coating the thing in a few feet of lead, given how much effort it takes to put heavy things in orbit.

      1. Andy The Hat Silver badge

        Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

        I thought the current thinking was to spread all your organics on the sun-facing wall as a radiation shield then, as you eat/drink the shield, you replace it with organic waste - preferably on the other side of the wall to prevent embarrassment such as "... this coffee tastes like mud ..." (or a similar material less Black Adder-esque)

        At least it'd stop you going mad, wibble!

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

        You only need a shield as big as the ship, power would not be an issue with a nuclear reactor but safety sure would which defeats the purpose. Apart from future tech e.g smaller and safer reactors or using solar power to repel, erm, well solar power then suicide missions to mine lead on the Moon and Mars are in order. Here's hoping!

      3. JeffyPoooh Silver badge
        Pint

        Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

        "A magnetic field strong... ...significant power requirement."

        Superconductors solves that problem. 'Just' need to perfect superconductors.

        Deploy thin superconducting coils, then start the current flowing.

        Arrange things correctly, the coils will even self tension themselves.

        1. danR2

          Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

          Then there's the helium refrigerator, the power supply for the helium refrigerator, the heat-exchanger to dump heat from the helium refrigerator...

          1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge

            Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

            But we are talking cosmic radiation here, some of these things are REALLY energetic. A few km of atmosphere will do, but on a spaceflight, you don't have those.

      4. Fr. Ted Crilly
        Mushroom

        Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

        And if you could make a mag field such as needed and manipulate it at will, well hello Bussard Ramjet tech.

    3. danR2

      Re: "...Earth’s magnetosphere deflected harmful radiation particles away."

      It's too bad the means to do so are exceptionally heavy, especially for what's needed for interplanetary transit.

  12. Wiltshire

    Don't worry, we'll probably get what we deserve. More Clintons in the White House, more Saudi funding for the Clinton Foundation, and more weapons sold to Saudi. What could possibly go wrong?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I am always shocked the majority of the world is willing to deal with countries that have such terrible human rights record....

      1. TeeCee Gold badge
        Alert

        You think the Saudis ought to boycott the US arms business as a protest?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Stop

        @AC

        "I am always shocked the majority of the world is willing to deal with countries that have such terrible human rights record"

        That you know off.

        That is the whole key element: what you (don't) know is going on. Take Gitmo for example, that is a blatant disgrace and major insult to human rights if there was one (in case people forgot: the option to detain people without any trial and then torturing them for confessions). Last I checked this concentration camp hasn't been shut down, despite all previously made promises.

        So how much of these installations are out there which we don't know off?

        I also don't particular like the Islamic laws which are upheld in countries such as Saudi Arabia but at least they don't make a secret out of it. You know up front what you're getting yourself into if you visit, which is more I can say for the way "Gitmo law" was applied.

  13. Notas Badoff

    Science with a bit of slight of hand

    "... after acute exposure ..."

    I had to scan through the report twice to answer (?) a simple question: how spread out was the exposure to this radiation? They keep talking about the long duration of exposure that a Mars transit would entail, and yet are not forthcoming about how they replicated that exposure. The above was the only mention I could find.

    We say we're investigating X (because funding!) but we actually test Y (because easier!) and report results from the latter as though it said something definite about the former.

    Here, let me give you a year's worth of sunlight in one flash, and check 30 days later how well you can see.

  14. kev whelan

    isnt this why god invented tin foil hats ?

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    It may already be too late to avoid fried brains in space since the amount of high energy radiation in our part of the Solar System has been rising steadily over the last few decades.

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Windows

      It may already be too late to avoid fried brains in space

      There could well be an immunisation effect by frying your brain in advance, so attend a few Orange Turnip rallies beforehand and you'd be good to go

  16. jason 7

    It's just too far away to visit...

    ...a DEAD planet. It's dead okay!

    I see people saying about terraforming the bloody thing. Quite how you do that with a DEAD planet with no molten core and no magnetosphere.

    I guess in this pussyfooting era 'cons' like that are just seen as negative to the wonder of the project.

    If you want to play around on dead things go to the moon. At least that might be more useful in the future.

    1. TRT Silver badge

      Re: It's just too far away to visit...

      Matt Damon!

    2. AbelSoul

      Re: It's just too far away to visit...

      I see people saying about terraforming the bloody thing. Quite how you do that with a DEAD planet with no molten core and no magnetosphere.

      Terraforming is not dependent upon either of those things.

      A magnetoshpere only becomes relevant once you have the desired atmosphere as it would slow the depletion of it.

      However, even without a magnetosphere, atmospheric depletion would be so slow that it would make little difference and if you have the capability to generate an atmosphere, you should be able to top any losses up.

      Not that terraforming is likely for the foreseeable either way.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: It's just too far away to visit...

        Not that terraforming is likely for the foreseeable either way.

        If they can get there then they can get to the asteroid belt, find a few ice asteroids and then send them to Mars.

        Their crashing on the surface should turn them to superheated steam and you are well on the way to an atmosphere and plenty of water.

  17. Timbo

    HAL 9000

    My first thought was: So THAT'S why HAL went wrong ;-)

    (2001: A Space Oddity, if one needed the reference)

    Seems like Arthur C Clarke was ahead of the game...again !!

  18. MAF

    Model organisms

    Mice & rats are not men (or women). They are a useful biological model organism but they differ in oh so many ways.

    This is why we have long-term human habitation on the ISS with a battery of tests and it will take time to build a body of data that is statistically reliable.

    Space will NEVER be totally safe (It's not that safe on Earth for that matter) but it will be as safe

    as we can make it.

  19. m0r1arty

    Who let The Register back onto my Google News feed?

    I dropped you guys when you picked up the News of the World reporters overusing "Boffin".

    Who did you bribe to bypass this filter?

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Feelin' like a space brain

    One more time tonight,

    GnR

  21. Tom Paine Silver badge

    ....various performance decrements, memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision-making. Many of these adverse consequences to cognition may continue and progress throughout life,..

    So a bit liek reading the Daily Mail, then. But at least you'd be 20 million miles away from Richard Littlejohn:

  22. lafnlab
    Alien

    "...the unsuspecting mice..."

    Or so they would have you believe. As pan-dimensional, hyper-galactic beings, they were quite aware of and amused by the "experiments".

  23. dbtx Bronze badge

    Shenanigans.

    If I actually wanted to hear about or think about Donald Trump, there's plenty of other crap to click on besides an obvious science or physics article. It is the Internet, after all...

    1. dbtx Bronze badge

      P.S. the subheading was very clear but it doesn't appear when the article is in the spotlight or whatever you call the center of the page :/

  24. Stoneshop Silver badge
    Alien

    It can lead to

    “various performance decrements, memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision-making."

    I don't know about depression, but the other symptoms show that the Orange Turnip has already done a round trip, or rather, and more plausible, that he's actually from outer space.

  25. danR2

    been saying this for years

    We aren't going anywhere. The future of space exploration is for AI/robots.

    1. hplasm Silver badge
      Paris Hilton

      Re: been saying this for years

      Bye then. Look after the cave.

      1. danR2

        Re: been saying this for years

        There's enough radiation on Mars as well, you'll need your second cave.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good glad we're not going to Mars. Does no one remember HG Wells and what the Martians got up to ?

    For all we know the little green buggers have hacked windows 10 telemetry and are using it to prepare targets for an invasion of earth.

  27. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Trollface

    This is interesting

    The article implies the changes of MIND latent damage to HARDWARE may cause.

    Where's your extraphysical mind now, believers in [whatever idea is pulled out of the arse to account for the rather fake problem of having to explain consciousness]??

  28. TivoExPat
    FAIL

    Dose rate matters. Ion species matters.

    The paper does not specify if the dose was delivered in a single fraction or if it was given over some longer period of time.

    Fractionation matters.

    Cells repair in eight to twenty four hours if the damage is not overwhelming.

    The ions used are very heavy ions, where cosmic rays and solar wind are primarily high energy Protons.

    Protons have a lower relative biological effect and damage DNA in a different way than heavy ions (single stranded breaks vs. double stranded breaks).

    This was not an experiment that accurately represents the quality and dose rate that travelers to mars would experience.

    We already know that whole brain irradiation causes harm in humans, especially in children.

    The question should be: With radiation of the kind and dose rate and duration that would occur on a mission to mars, how would the travelers be harmed.

    It would be better to use Proton irradiation, once per day in relevant quantities over a period of several months and then evaluate response.

  29. Wils

    The graphic for this article is unnecessary and inappropriate.

    Manned missions to Mars will never happen with current technology. We are struggling to cope with simple problems here on Earth like keeping people gainfully employed on a living wage. Only twisters and fantasists are contemplating such nonsense. Anyone understanding basic science knows this is an impossibility on so many levels as is space travel generally. Leave science fiction where it belongs: FICTION!

    1. IT Poser

      "simple problems here on Earth like keeping people gainfully employed on a living wage."

      If only we could think of something for all of these people to do. What is needed is some kind of project, preferably one with spillover benefits that we can barely begin to imagine today.

      We know that we have excess capital just begging for a shot at some sort of positive return. Uber's valuation alone should speak to that.

      All that is missing are the resources, wait, no we have those too. They just need to be put to a purpose. Poor people across the global from Brazilian miners to Chinese factory workers to Wall St bankers* would love to go to work providing those.

      Someone still has to put the pieces together. We might as well throw the workers in western countries a bone and let them assemble the finished products.

      For some reason I am having a hard time seeing how a Martian colonization effort would not solve the simple problem you are so concerned about. I guess we could just increase everyone's benefit check instead if trying to do something isn't an option.

      * Poor compared to what they will be after they take their slice of the pie.

  30. thegrouch

    All the criticism of Trump reminds me of the anti-Brexit rhetoric during the run-up to the referendum. Brexiteers were ignorant bigots, all talking lies etc etc. And yet a majority of voters chose Out. I wonder, despite what the press and various talking heads say about Trump, if he won't still get voted in. When you're constantly being told what to think and that your opinions are wrong, folk tend to get a bit defensive about it and will use their vote to express this. I wouldn't say Clinton is a shoe-in by any means.

  31. Axman

    Rodentism

    "After the rodents were exposed, they were shipped off to another lab... to investigate how radiation impacted their tiny brains."

    Tiny Brains!!! How very dare they!

  32. Spaceman Spiff

    It just means that we need better radiation shielding on these ships. It doesn't have to be lead. It can be something that will deflect the undesirable particles and radiation wave forms. In any case, this is a problem that can be overcome.

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