In Andy Weir’s “The Martian,” Mark Watney survived against long odds as he dealt with catastrophic failures to survive and to return to Earth. But somewhat overlooked in the script was an issue that looms as a real threat to the astronauts who potentially will make the trek to set up camp on Mars: radiation.
On board the Mars rover “Curiosity” is a radiation assessment detector, an instrument taking the first-ever measurements of charged particles and gamma rays from the surface of the planet. The instrument is the size of a small toaster, but its measurements are critical for scientists to understand and model the Martian radiation environment, if human beings are ever to be able to survive there.
“The space radiation environment will be a critical consideration for everything in the astronauts’ daily lives, both on the journeys between Earth and Mars and on the surface,” says Ruthan Lewis, an architect and engineer with the human spaceflight program at NASA. “You’re constantly being bombarded by some amount of radiation.”Radiation exposure is just one of a number of significant physical and physiological risks of going to Mars. But it's still worth it, isn't it? To read more, click here.