Mars astronauts face many risks

Volunteers for the mission to Mars face many challenges to their survival.
By Adam Widmer | Oct 25, 2016
NASA is in the final few days of accepting applications for an astronaut program that would send mankind to Mars sometime in the 2030s -- but those who do volunteer should realize what they're signing up for, said one scientist at a conference in Austin, Texas recently.

Pascal Lee, who is a planetary scientist at the SETI Institute, said astronauts who make the difficult trip to Mars will face survival challenges every single day, according to a CNET report.

The trip itself will be quite difficult and will require blasting off of Earth and then spending six months in a small capsule on the way to Mars. Man has never traveled farther than the moon's orbit.

Then there's the landing. Fortunately, we have a good bit of experience with that by now in landing rovers, but those are significantly smaller.

But all of those risks are nothing compared to actually living on a desolate planet like Mars. There will be a supply of water in some areas, but other than that astronauts won't get much help on the Red Planet.

Radiation figures to be a major problem. Unlike the Earth, Mars doesn't have a big, thick atmosphere protecting us from the harmful radiation of the sun. Scientists think the astronauts may need to go at least 9 feet underground to protect themselves.

Then there's the concern about suffocation. The Martian atmosphere is not fit for humans due to its incredibly high carbon dioxide ratio, although this might mean astronauts could grow lots of vegetation in a controlled environment.

Storms on Mars are also a concern, not because they're particularly strong -- winds get up to 60 miles per hour at the most -- but because of the extremely fine dust that would get everywhere, including electronics and lungs.

Temperatures would also be challenging, as on Mars it doesn't get too hot, but it can get to -225 degrees Fahrenheit.

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