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Curiosity rover  (Source:
It's unknown what kind of health effects could come from such a trip

There's a lot of talk about humans living on Mars one day, but radiation levels discovered by NASA's Curiosity rover may spark a new investigation into what is an acceptable amount for people to tolerate over a period of time.

Curiosity, which landed on the Red Planet on August 6, 2012, has been using a tool called a Radiation Assessment Detector to collect radiation samples while on Mars. The goal was to get an idea of how much radiation humans would be exposed to during a round trip to Mars. 

Cary Zeitlin, NASA's principal scientist for the Martian Radiation Environment Experiment, found (through Curiosity) that humans could be exposed to between 554 and 770 millisieverts of ionizing radiation. This largely depends on the level of solar activity.

Americans typically receive about 6.2 millisieverts a year from both natural and man-made sources. 

What does this mean, exactly? Zeitlin isn't entirely sure; as his team just makes measurements and doesn't decide what radiation dose is considered safe. The amount of radiation found falls in line with what was expected in a "deep space radiation environment," but as far as health goes, more information is needed. 

Astronauts traveling to the moon receive about the same rate of radiation accumulation as those traveling to Mars, but since the Mars trip is so much longer than the moon's (the Apollo moon mission took about 8 days while the Curiosity Mars mission took about 253 days) the radiation levels may be more dangerous. 

Zeitlin mentioned that there's no effective method of shielding that could block all of the high-energy particles from reaching the astronauts on a Mars mission. 

There are also some studies that say radiation exposure is linked to cancer, and NASA tries to keep its lifetime fatal cancer risk to 3 percent for its astronauts.

NASA released a report in 2010 that said the average 35-year-old American male can safely spend between 140 and 186 days in deep space with heavy shielding while a 35-year-old female could spend between 88 and 120 days. For those who have never smoked, the 35-year-old man could spend between 180 and 239 days in deep space while a 35-year-old female could spend between 130 and 173 days. These figures keep them below the 3 percent cancer risk.

Zeitlin said the radiation astronauts would receive on a Mars trip would be comparable to getting an abdominal CT scan once every five days.

Source: CNN

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Doesn't matter
By gwem557 on 5/30/2013 10:43:43 PM , Rating: 5
I'd still go if I could. As would many, I suspect.

RE: Doesn't matter
By mi1400 on 5/31/13, Rating: -1
RE: Doesn't matter
By Flunk on 5/31/2013 7:47:05 AM , Rating: 4
I'm all for you going. I think it's important to send a team to Mars but I sure as hell don't want to go. I'd rather stay here where the weather is good.

RE: Doesn't matter
By Souka on 5/31/2013 12:09:18 PM , Rating: 2
As I read the article I kept thinking of the old Arnold Swartz movie "Total Recall" and that would be life on Mars.... :)

RE: Doesn't matter
By daboom06 on 5/31/2013 2:36:37 PM , Rating: 3
i take it you're not in michigan.

RE: Doesn't matter
By Obujuwami on 5/31/2013 11:20:38 AM , Rating: 2
I'd go to try and teraform the planet with plants...would be an interesting experiment!

RE: Doesn't matter
By Stuka on 5/31/2013 12:29:21 PM , Rating: 5
Every time I hear about all the planning and expense of a manned trip to Mars, I think how much money and effort could be saved simply by asking for volunteers for a one-way trip. I bet thousands of people would sign up, and surely there would be five or so of those that would be capable of handling the trip physically and mentally.

Imagine being the first man on Mars... Forever a pinnacle point in history like Magellan, Armstrong (the good one). That's more than I'd accomplish at this desk.

RE: Doesn't matter
By Jaybus on 5/31/2013 2:05:16 PM , Rating: 3
LOL. My guess is not one of them would be mentally capable.

RE: Doesn't matter
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 2:34:32 PM , Rating: 1
They astronauts are actually very smart people. They usually have a high level of education and all have electronic, mechanical, physics expertise. A spacecraft simply does not just get there without a problem.

The other problem is that most people will either die or pass out during launch due to G force. The mission is doomed before it even reached orbit. They like to take pilots from the Navy, Air Force and Marines.

Then you have the science part. That's the whole point of the mission. They have to be very knowledgeable and able to carry out the research being in the frontier of human exploration.

I don't think there's anyone that's willing to do a one way trip and qualify for all of the above.

RE: Doesn't matter
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 2:36:39 PM , Rating: 2
I forgot the biggest problem for Mars mission. Psychology. 6 months on Mars is no joke. I would say most people will go insane if they're not mentally strong and ready.

RE: Doesn't matter
By Reclaimer77 on 6/2/2013 9:22:16 PM , Rating: 2

Seriously if humans had this mindset hundreds or thousands of years ago, we never would have gone anywhere as a race. We would still be in huts!

Throughout the history of man, a small few have been willing to take risks that eventually benefit all. This is no different.

But going to Mars I would think cancer that may or may not develop years after would be at the bottom of a very long list of things to worry about. Things that can kill you instantly or otherwise doom you.

Befuddled article
By vailr on 5/31/2013 4:52:02 PM , Rating: 3
The author needs to re-write this article, to make a clear distinction between total radiation exposure while traveling on a trip TO Mars vs. radiation exposure while ON Mars. The data from Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector seems to have only been acquired since arriving at Mars, not during the trip TO mars. But: the DailyTech article is very unclear as to what the NASA engineer is really saying.
As for ionizing radiation protection ON Mars: find or dig a cave. A few feet of solid rock would provide adequate radiation protection.

RE: Befuddled article
By sorry dog on 6/3/2013 11:41:24 AM , Rating: 2
...and what's with the 35 year old non-smoking astronauts? I assume the first group are doing something bad since they can't stay in space as long...are they smoking astronauts? I'd like to see the mission planning on how many cartons they are going to send up... I mean space probably ain't the best place to kick the habit....

RE: Befuddled article
By maugrimtr on 6/4/2013 8:43:34 AM , Rating: 2
As for ionizing radiation protection ON Mars: find or dig a cave. A few feet of solid rock would provide adequate radiation protection.

Hint: Mars has no planetary magnetic field. You might want to dig deeper than a few feet. There are lava tubes beneath the surface which are probably better suited, at a good depth and can be easily reinforced (even coated and compartmentalized as a secondary defense should a primary living module suffer damage).

RE: Befuddled article
By boeush on 6/3/2013 8:44:18 PM , Rating: 3
The data from Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector seems to have only been acquired since arriving at Mars, not during the trip TO mars.
Actually, precisely the opposite. The data in question was acquired during the trip to Mars. Of course, the same instrument is also continuing to acquire data about radiation exposure on Mars' surface, but that data hasn't yet been accumulated in sufficient quantities and/or sufficiently analyzed yet to report to the public...

While the instrument was in flight, it was shielded inside the spacecraft; thus the data indicates approximate levels of radiation that astronauts in a shielded spacecraft would receive on a transit to (and from) Mars.

Radiation levels on Mars' surface will be lower than in deep space, firstly because you only get half as much exposure to cosmic rays (the other half being blocked by the body of the planet beneath you), and secondly because Mars' atmosphere and magnetic fields (however feeble) do provide some additional shielding.
As for ionizing radiation protection ON Mars: find or dig a cave.
That would be good advice even absent radiation. Mars' thin atmosphere wouldn't provide much protection against small meteoroids, either -- so unless you enjoy life in a shooting gallery, probably best to go underground. As an extra bonus, you won't have to deal with the wild swings in temperature between night and day, and you'd be better shielded from the dust...

CT Scan every 5 days?!?
By StormyKnight on 5/31/2013 1:01:18 AM , Rating: 2
A CT Scan is very HIGH energy. Roughly equivalent to 500 x-rays.

RE: CT Scan every 5 days?!?
By Jaybus on 5/31/2013 2:34:45 PM , Rating: 2
That depends. A lower GI series is an x-ray exposure of about 8 mSv. A full body CT is about 10 mSv. Mars normal is like having weekly full body CTs.

The lowest annual exposure clearly known to be carcinogenic is 100 mSv. Mars normal is at least 3.5 times the known carcinogenic level and cancer risk would be very, very high. Short of a coronal mass ejection event, staying on Mars wouldn't kill you'd die from cancer about 10 years later.

More Importantly...
By Ramstark on 5/31/2013 11:00:09 AM , Rating: 2
Where is my Total Recall reference image of Arnold choking with his eyes popping out???

RE: More Importantly...
By Alexvrb on 6/25/2013 10:46:35 PM , Rating: 2
It *IS* a tuh-mah!

Not news
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 8:59:36 AM , Rating: 1
We all know Mars barely has an atmosphere or a strong electromagnetic field like earth. That is 2 of the most crucial ingredients in protection against solar radiation. Why is this even news? It's already known that radiation exposure would be much higher.

Even with that obstacle and knowing I might die from it in just a few months. I would still go in a heartbeat.

RE: Not news
By BRB29 on 5/31/2013 9:03:08 AM , Rating: 2
BTW, this part is purely based on statistics and a multiple regression model.

NASA released a report in 2010 that said the average 35-year-old American male can safely spend between 140 and 186 days in deep space with heavy shielding while a 35-year-old female could spend between 88 and 120 days. For those who have never smoked, the 35-year-old man could spend between 180 and 239 days in deep space while a 35-year-old female could spend between 130 and 173 days. These figures keep them below the 3 percent cancer risk.

Nobody knows what will happen but that is our best guess with a 95% confidence based on earth info. We really have no clue what will happen with humans on Mars until we get there.

solar flares
By chromal on 5/30/2013 10:46:19 PM , Rating: 2
I think the bigger worry is what happens if a big solar flare unloads on them. This was even a concern for Apollo astronauts.

Analysis will be ok
By xtort107 on 5/31/2013 2:50:47 AM , Rating: 2
Mind the fact the article said at current mission speeds to Mars, we have a new propulsion system being studied currently that could cut the trip by as much as half. Plus we are going to have to get a full breakdown, are these numbers that are being quoted so far just the trip or the surface numbers or are there breakdowns since i know there instrumentation is complex. I feel we will have this problem solved by mission day.

By Fidget on 5/31/2013 8:46:16 AM , Rating: 2
Even space discriminates against women!

If they build smart
By Ammohunt on 5/31/2013 1:31:48 PM , Rating: 2
It would be trivial to provide shielding to to half or even quarter the amount of radiation astronauts are exposed to. If i were building a mars mission platform, i would start with an outer shell made from the same material they make the inflatable concrete structures from; in a cylindrical shape. Which would server as excellent radiation and micro meteorite shielding. Just would need to work out a way to hydrate them once inflated and deployed in space perhaps a black plastic pressurized membrane exposed to the sun to keep the water liquid as it rotated.

site problem
By nolarrow on 5/31/2013 4:03:07 PM , Rating: 2
I know the site is fine but I figure I should let anand team know:

"Google detected badware on the site you were visiting. Firefox uses Google's blacklist to warn you about "Reported attack sites." We understand that you may know and trust this site, but it's possible for good sites to be infected with badware without the site owners' knowledge or permission."

Rover for Venus??
By KOOLTIME on 6/5/2013 12:51:42 PM , Rating: 2
Why don't they send a rover to Venus also, vs just a rock like mars is, the pictures clearly show its just a empty desert and nothing to do even if they landed, same thing as the moon. Its empty.

Other then saying I was 1st, there is no point beyond that going to Mars. Its not habitable, same thing with our Moon.

Our Space programs for our planet, wont work, as currently using rocket tech to fly around, space shuttle type system wont reach even the moon or mars and back.

Need a new drive system, beyond rocket, and that's the problem, only one usable is also dangerous, which would be a nuclear fusion drive, cant gas up half way, have to have long range, and that's the only thing we have that can go years to make such a voyage.

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