Determine the optimal date for sending space missions to Mars

The health effects on the body of astronauts and how to treat and address them are still one of the most important challenges that impede sending exploratory missions on an ongoing basis to space.

The idea of ​​sending astronauts to Mars is common to space agencies and private industry, but the negative health effects of astronauts are well developed: cancer, space radiation and heart problems.

A new study has found that the safety of space explorers can be assured based on when they are launched.

The study, which brought together scientists at the University of California, MIT, Skolkovo Institute of Science and Technology in Moscow, and GFZ Potsdam, concluded that if a mission of 300 million miles is less than four years away, and occurs when the sun is at its highest level of activity – defined as maximum solar energy – then The mission to the red planet is possible.

According to the statement, anything longer than four years would expose the astronauts to a “dangerously high amount of radiation” during the flight.

The next solar maximum is expected to peak in July 2025, according to NASA.

There will also be a danger of particles coming from outside the solar system, known as galactic cosmic rays.

“This study shows that while space radiation imposes strict limits on spacecraft weight and launch time, and presents technological difficulties for human missions to Mars, such a mission is viable,” study co-author Yuri Shpreets said in the statement. .

There are two types of particles that astronauts should feel, according to the study’s co-authors: solar particles and galactic cosmic rays.

Depending on solar activity, the intensity of each type of particle can move up or down.

During the solar maximum, the rate of galactic cosmic rays decreases, and the total potential for solar particles present also decreases.

The lower GCR in the solar maximum and possibly the number of lower SEP events due to the trend to lower solar activity, suggests that the following solar maximum may be one of the safest times to fly into deep space in the past 80 years, according to Nathan Schaudron, a researcher in a separate study. on the subject.

Shpritz added that galactic cosmic rays are lowest for six to twelve months after the peak of solar activity, while energetic solar particles have their maximum intensity during the sun’s maximum.

The study authors wrote: “Fluxes in particles of solar origin increase during the solar maximum when particles originating from distant galaxies are most affected by the solar system during times when the sun is active.”

Our calculations clearly show that the best time for human space to reach Mars is during peak solar energy, when it is possible to protect against SEP particles. Our simulations show that an increase in shielding creates an increase in secondary radiation from the more active GCR, resulting in a higher dose, limiting the duration of the task.

The window to send astronauts to Mars depends on the alignment of the Sun, Earth and Mars, with our planet in the middle, a phenomenon that occurs once every 26 months.

The last window occurred on October 14, 2020, and the next time that will happen is late 2022.

The spacecraft must focus on protecting astronauts from both types of radiation, particularly solar particles.

They suggest a spacecraft made of an aluminum casing with an inner radius of 3 feet to better protect them.

The research was published in the scientific journal Space Weather.

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