Less radiation than expected during a mission to Mars

Less radiation than expected during a mission to Mars

Astronauts are less exposed to radiation than expected during a Mars mission

The radiation to which astronauts would be exposed on a Mars mission is lower than previously expected. The calculated scientists from the Christian Albrechts University in Kiel (CAU) in cooperation with researchers from NASA, the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colorado, and the German Aerospace Center. The cancer risk due to radiation exposure is therefore increased by about five percent. Data from the radiation monitor RAD (Radiation Assessment Detector) on board the Mars rover "Curiosity" formed the basis for the calculation.

Radiation from Mars missions increases cancer risk by around five percent. The researchers assumed that the radiation would be present during a 500-day stay in Mars. With the current solar activity, the astronauts would be exposed to a radiation dose of 0.32 Sievert. On the outward and return journey, another 0.66 Sievert would be added in a shuttle with the same shielding that “Curiosity” also had. "This puts the total load slightly above the limit of around 0.8 Sievert, which astronauts may be exposed to throughout their careers," reports the CAU. The cancer risk that is increased by about five percent is small compared to that of a smoker. "Smoking, for example, increases the risk of developing lung cancer by around 1,500 percent," reports the university.

"The data obtained is an important step in the implementation of a manned mission to Mars and can help protect astronauts on future missions, for example, by better shielding the spaceship or by secure housing on Mars," explains Professor Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of the CAU. The data can also be used for an estimate to find out how long and how deep in the ground organisms could survive on Mars. "In addition, how long signatures of past life can still be detected in the surface layers," says the message. (ag)

Image: Ingo Merbeth /

Author and source information

Video: NASA Talk - Spacecraft, Habitats and Radiation Protection (October 2020).