First Orion flight will assess radiation risk as NASA thinks about human Mars missions

November 21, 2014 by Elizabeth Howell, Universe Today
The Mars Society’s prototype Mars habitat in Utah. Image Credit: Mars Society MRDS

If you wanna get humans to Mars, there are so many technical hurdles in the way that it will take a lot of hard work. How to help people survive for months on a hostile surface, especially one that is bathed on radiation? And how will we keep those people safe on the long journey there and back?

NASA is greatly concerned about the , and is asking the public for help in a new challenge as the agency measures radiation with the forthcoming uncrewed Orion test flight in December. There's $12,000 up for grabs across at least a few awards, providing you get your ideas into the agency by Dec. 12.

"One of the major human health issues facing future space travelers venturing beyond low-Earth orbit is the hazardous effects of (GCRs)," NASA wrote in a press release.

"Exposure to GCRs, immensely high-energy radiation that mainly originates outside the solar system, now limits mission duration to about 150 days while a mission to Mars would take approximately 500 days. These charged particles permeate the universe, and exposure to them is inevitable during space exploration."

Here's an interesting twist, too—more data will come through the Orion test flight as the next-generation spacecraft aims for a flight 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) above Earth's surface. That's so high that the vehicle will go inside a high-radiation environment called the Van Allen Belts, which only the Apollo astronauts passed through in the 1960s and 1970s en route to the Moon.

While a flight to Mars will also just graze this area briefly, scientists say the high-radiation environment will give them a sense of how Orion (and future spacecraft) perform in this kind of a zone. So the spacecraft will carry sensors on board to measure overall levels as well as "hot spots" within the vehicle.

Orion in orbit in this artists concept. Credit: NASA

Explore further: Radiation monitors tested on space station to fly on Orion

More information: www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-inno … ssions/#.VG9GeJDF_SZ

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SSgt Ski
1 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2014
FIrst priority for making Mars a feasible colony is to drop a numerous amount of pods stocked with supplies. Second, using robots to create a usable runway for aircraft similar to Cherry Points runway would make life a lot easier in the long run since it only takes approximately 50% of thrust needed to fly on Mars. With the thin atmosphere it should make exiting Mars easier than on Earth. Once all of that is COMPLETE, THEN progress can be made for a realistic colonization. All of these articles that get posted saying NASA is really pushing to send humans to Mars SOON is just nonsense and insanity if there aren't resources on the planet already in case of an emergency happening once humans reach orbit the first time. So how bout printing something more realistic........
Da Schneib
5 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2014
We didn't need all that stuff for the Moon. OTOH we did almost lose Apollo 13.
HTK
1 / 5 (2) Nov 22, 2014
We need to do the following

1. build a base, runway and hotel on the moon (income)
2. build a wheel space station (income)
3. mars base & runway

All bases need to go underground to shield from radiation at first until shielding technology exists.

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