Can Humans Survive a Trip to Mars?

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Agency has unveiled an ambitious plan to send humans to the moon and Mars within the next two decades.  But there is a fundamental question NASA must answer: Can a human body survive the 34 million-mile (55 million-kilometer) voyage to the red planet?

Agilent subsidiary Dako is helping to answer that question.

Here on Earth, we are protected from cosmic radiation exposure by a protective global magnetosphere.  There would be no such protection in space.  Previous studies have shown that heavy ions can impair brain tissue and accelerate aging.

A new study at Georgetown University suggests that cosmic radiation could literally destroy your gut.

Researchers exposed mice to various forms of radiation.  Iron radiation caused intestinal cells to stop absorbing nutrients and form cancerous polyps.  Iron radiation also induced DNA damage that caused intestinal cells to stop reproducing.  (Your gastro-intestinal tract normally replaces itself every three to five days.)

The researchers used Dako antibodies for protein immunostaining.  Dako products are part of Agilent’s portfolio of Pathology Solutions.

“We have documented the effects of deep space radiation on some vital organs, but we believe that similar damage responses may occur in many organs,” says senior investigator Kamal Datta, MD.  “It is important to understand these effects in advance, so we can do everything we can to protect our future space travelers.”

For more information go to: