Despite the financial hurdles likely to prevent humans from going to Mars anytime soon, scientists still constantly brainstorm the challenges of getting to the Red Planet safely. In addition to studying the need for long-term healthy food options for such a journey, scientists also analyze data from NASA’s Curiosity rover to try and anticipate other potential complexities of such a mission.
The latest one? Radiation.
About a year ago, as the Curiosity rover made its way to Mars, readings from its Radiation Assessment Detector indicated that astronauts would be exposed to 554-770 millisieverts of radiation on the journey. What does that mean, exactly? Well, most people are exposed to roughly 6.2 millisieverts of radiation a year. Taking a trip to Mars would be akin to getting a CT scan “once every five days,” according to the Cary Zeitlin, lead scientist for the Martian Radiation Environment Experiment. What that means in terms of tangible effects is still unknown. On the bright side, Martians probably wouldn’t find radiation-caused mutations all that strange, but I think it’s safe to say that we don’t want to find out.