July 24, 2024

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This new study could doom manned missions to Mars before they even happen

This new study could doom manned missions to Mars before they even happen

Both NASA and SpaceX hope to send humans to Mars one day. SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has publicly shared plans to colonize the Red Planet over the years, and NASA has even identified a potential manned mission to Mars in the 2030s. Of course, there are plenty of hurdles to overcome before we can hope to achieve these goals, but now, new concerns about astronaut kidney damage may dash those hopes before they even have a chance to come to fruition.

We already know that sending humans to Mars will take months, perhaps years in total. This is because our neighboring planet is about 225 million kilometers away, and scientists estimate that traveling there using current space technology could take up to six months. Nuclear-powered missiles could certainly change that, but that’s a gamble we haven’t made yet.

But before we can worry about all that, we have to deal with a new worry. According to a recently published study, the extreme conditions of space travel may actually cause kidney damage in astronauts. The study used samples from more than 40 space missions that included humans and mice. The data revealed that conditions in space cause certain parts of the kidney to shrink after less than a month in space.

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This is very worrying news, especially since recent research has shown that just three days in space is enough time to cause cognitive decline in astronauts as well. If we really want to be able to send humans to Mars and beyond, we’ll have to figure out ways to protect their kidneys along the way. Otherwise they may suffer severe radiation damage, which may cause kidney failure.

One of the main reasons this news is particularly alarming is that kidneys are very slow to show radiation damage. This means that even with routine checkups, astronauts may not always catch kidney damage in time, forcing them to undergo other treatments to keep the body functioning as it needs to.

Researchers Detail their findings in Nature Communications. While they say there is no way to protect kidneys from cosmic radiation using shielding, they hope that we can somehow develop technological or pharmaceutical measures that could help make deep space travel such as manned missions to Mars possible.