Researcher Offers Suggestions for Germ-Free Spaceflight During Long Trips
October 22, 2012 7:38 AM
comment(s) - last by
With the U.S. wanting to send astronauts on long trips to Mars, it's important to make sure disease prevention tactics are in place
While NASA's disease prevention methods have worked pretty well for shorter trips, like those to the International Space Station (ISS), American space travel is looking to
send astronauts to Mars
in the future and stronger germ-fighting techniques may be in order.
Dr. Leonard Mermel, a Rhode Island Hospital infectious disease expert from Brown University, has written a new paper of suggestions that could keep spacecrafts germ-free during
-- such as to Mars.
After reading hundreds of papers about infectious diseases and citing 91 of them in his paper, Mermel came to a few conclusions that could prove problematic for long-term missions. These problems include the fact that limited power means no complex air filtration (which also means no use of disinfectants or hand hygiene products because they can emit hazardous vapors; microgravity can weaken the immune system in some ways while also increasing resistance to some microorganisms, and without gravity, germs from a sneeze do not simply hit the ground; they linger in the air.
What does Mermel suggest? Beefing up NASA's current disease prevention methods. This means vaccinating astronauts for several diseases and screening for many others, which NASA already does, but extend the vaccinations to include germs like
. Screenings can be done pre-flight to include many strains, such as
Aside from that, Mermel also suggested that astronauts receive
formal infection control
education and a new, low-energy diagnostic testing kit.
NASA could also consider whether to irradiate more food for longer trips, since food could be a source for germs. Irradiating the food means making it completely sterile, but it could be harmful for astronauts to eat sterile food for two whole years.
Further, Mermel believes future spacecraft makers could include HEPA air filtration as well as waterless hand hygiene dispensers.
"I've been involved for two decades with trying to prevent infections in the intensive care unit and general hospital settings and I've been involved with national and international guidelines, but there are a lot of constraints in space I had never thought of before," said Mermel.
U.S. President Barack Obama challenged NASA to put a man on an asteroid by 2025 and
explore Mars in 2030
. With such endeavors in mind, securing spacecrafts from as many germs as possible might be a good idea.
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: Higher Power
10/23/2012 8:41:41 AM
the main issue with space based nuclear power is not shielding (which is not there to prevent an 'explosion')- its being able to radiate the heat away.
a conventional reactor usually has a nearby river or ocean to radiate the heat away. in space the only way of getting rid of heat (and thereby driving an electrical generator) is to radiate it away.
the weight and size of the radiator required to get the heat out of even a very small reactor is prohibitively large.
infact power to weight ratio wise solar panels win hands down unless you go past martian orbit.
it does make the whole concept of vasimr slightly redundant
if we could build a really really large (im talking many football pitch sized) radiator system that was also really light and also able to collapse down into a 4-5m fairing then it might be feasible.
at the moment that kind of technology is not available - nor is anyone developing it.
"A lot of people pay zero for the cellphone ... That's what it's worth." -- Apple Chief Operating Officer Timothy Cook
NASA Preparing to Explore Earth-Moon Libration Point 2
February 13, 2012, 12:35 PM
NASA Administrator Announces Mars Mission; Stresses Importance of ISS
April 8, 2011, 7:30 AM
Study Finds People Can be "Too Clean"
November 29, 2010, 2:42 PM
Creationists are Mad About Google Doodle Depicting Evolution
November 24, 2015, 8:48 PM
DHS and TSA: Whoops, We Missed That 73 Airport Employees May be Terrorists
November 19, 2015, 2:16 PM
Star Wars Spinoff Film "Rogue One", Theme Park Attractions Announced
August 17, 2015, 12:20 PM
SpaceX Falcon 9's Seventh Supply Mission to ISS Ends w/ Fiery Stage 1 Explosion
June 28, 2015, 1:10 PM
Cool Science Video: Glowing Millipede Prowls the Nevada Desert
May 18, 2015, 12:00 PM
Newly Discovered Costa Rican Glass Frog is Kermit's Doppelgänger
April 22, 2015, 11:26 AM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2016 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information