Is it safe for humans to travel to and fro Mars? Scientists explain
New Delhi : The scientists and researchers have found in their study that humans can safely travel to and from Mars, provided that the spacecraft they are traveling has sufficient shielding and the round trip should be less than approximately four years.
The findings of the study have been published in the journal 'Space Weather'.
The scientists need to check on various technological and safety obstacles to ensure safe to and fro travel of human beings. The biggest risks are posed by particle radiation from the sun, distant stars and galaxies. Answering two key questions would go a long way toward overcoming that hurdle --Would particle radiation pose too grave a threat to human life throughout a round trip to the red planet? And, could the very timing of a mission to Mars help shield astronauts and the spacecraft from the radiation?
An international team of space scientists, including researchers from UCLA, answers the two questions and say, humans should be able to safely travel to and from Mars, provided that the spacecraft has sufficient shielding and the round trip is shorter than approximately four years.
They also spoke about the timing of the trip. According to the scientists, the best time for a flight to leave Earth would be when solar activity is at its peak, known as the solar maximum.
The scientists' calculations demonstrate that it would be possible to shield a Mars-bound spacecraft from energetic particles from the sun because, during solar maximum, the most dangerous and energetic particles from distant galaxies are deflected by the enhanced solar activity. A trip of that length would be conceivable.
It is known that an average flight time to reach Mars is of about nine months, so depending on the timing of launch and available fuel, it is plausible that a human mission could reach the planet and return to Earth in less than two years, according to Yuri Shprits, a UCLA research geophysicist and co-author of the paper.
"This study shows that while space radiation imposes strict limitations on how heavy the spacecraft can be and the time of launch, and it presents technological difficulties for human missions to Mars, such a mission is viable," said Shprits, who also is head of space physics and space weather at GFZ Research Centre for Geosciences in Potsdam, Germany.
The journey time has been set to maximum four years because that would expose astronauts to a dangerously high amount of radiation during the round trip.
They also reported that the main danger to such a flight would be particles from outside of our solar system.