The team believes the “range of behavioral deficits” they saw in the mice clearly impair astronauts’ ability to respond quickly, appropriately and effectively to unexpected situations that arise during a mission to Mars. So they think humans might become stupid on Mars.
Researchers from the University of California, Irvine and Stanford University exposed experimental mice to low doses of neutron and photon radiation for six months. They set the dose to 18 centigrays. During the study, Radiation dose increases at a rate of 1 mGy/day. The results showed that this radiation appeared to change the way neurons in the hippocampus (mainly responsible for functions such as storage, switching and orientation of long-term memory) work, as well as the nerve impulses along the hippocampus and cortical neural pathways. What’s more, behavioral tests showed the mice had problems with learning and memory, and appeared to be more distressed and anxious.
The researchers explained that it was previously difficult to replicate and study the effects of deep space radiation, but now, using new neutron irradiation equipment, they can simulate realistic low-dose radiation conditions in deep space. “The nature of the radiation environment in space will not prevent us from going to Mars in the long term, but it may be the biggest obstacle that humans have to clear beyond Earth orbit and into deeper space.”
Francis Cucinotta, a professor in the Department of Health Physical and Diagnostic Sciences at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who was not involved in the study, is skeptical of the findings, saying they could be “misleading.”
Cucinotta explained to Newsweek that the radiation used in the study was not neutrons found in space, and the radiation dose exceeded NASA’s exposure limits – nine times the upper limit for women. , 4 times the upper limit of exposure for elderly men. Additionally, he questioned the researchers’ use of a type of mouse known to be sensitive to cognitive changes.
Reaching Mars requires two years of travel in a high-radiation environment. Jan Werner, Director General of the European Space Agency, commented: “So far we have not developed a spacecraft in which humans can survive.”