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Mars Astronauts Could Risk DNA Damage
by Staff Writers
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 24, 2012

Roscosmos Ready to Give Phobos-Grunt Second Try
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 24 - Russia's space agency Roscosmos on Tuesday backed an initiative to give the Phobos-Grunt project a second chance. Phobos-Grunt probe, launched on November 9, was designed to bring back rock and soil samples from the Martian moon Phobos. However, it was stuck in a so-called support orbit after its engines failed to put it on course for the Red Planet. The doomed probe crashed down in the Pacific Ocean on January 15 after two months in orbit.

"We've backed it [a proposal from the institute of space studies on the Phobos-2 project]. We agree with their position. This will be reflected in the strategy [for space development until 2030]," Roscosmos Chief Vladimir Popovkin said. The new project will not be a simple repeat of Phobos-Grunt 1, Popovkin said.

Future astronauts working on the Red Planet's surface risk general changes in health at the DNA level because of increased radiation exposure, a prominent Russian academic said on Monday.

"According to our estimates, researchers on the surface of Mars can expect a number of adverse factors, such as cardiac arrhythmia, reduced stability and performance, sensory impairments, as well as more long-term consequences in the form of changes at the DNA level, and demineralization of bone tissue," Anatoly Grigoryev, the deputy head of Russia's Academy of Sciences, told at a presentation at the International Symposium on the results of ground-based experiment Mars-500.

In addition, according to the academic, astronauts could also face a number of adverse psycho-physiological factors during the flight to Mars, such as hypokinesia (decreased motor activity), monotony and frustration.

After leaving the laboratory module, all participants of the experiment of ground simulation of the flight to the Red Planet fully preserved the health and performance, according to the material published on the results of preliminary processing of scientific data, obtained during the 520-day isolation volunteers.

However, Grigoryev noted that during the ground experiments, it is impossible to examine the effect of heavy charged particles on a person.

The unique Moscow-based Mars-500 experiment was completed on November 4. It attempted to recreate at least some of the conditions of a flight to the Red Planet by locking six men away in a mock spacecraft.

They spent 520 days in an environment simulating space flight. The six volunteers - researcher Alexander Smoleyevsky, flight engineer Roman Charles, crew commander Alexei Sitev, medical doctor Sukhrob Kamolov, and researchers Diego Urbina and Wang Yueh - were isolated from the outside world in a specially designed complex simulating a spaceship.

Russian Kvass May Help Astronauts Sustain Long Space Travel
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 24 - A traditional Russian drink may help crews of interplanetary spacecraft to maintain healthy microbacterial balance in the intestines, a report by Russian scientists said.

A group of Russian scientists from the Institute for Biomedical Problems monitored the changes in microbacterial levels in the intestines of the participants of the Mars-500 experiment, and the influence of certain probiotic substances, including kvass, on it.

Kvass is a traditional Russian fermented beverage made from regular rye bread. It is classified as a non-alcoholic drink by Russian standards, as the alcohol content from fermentation is typically less than 1.2%.

Three members of the "Martian" crew drank 200 milliliters of homemade kvass and registered an increase in the amount of bifidus bacteria in their bodies.

"Drinking kvass led to the increase in the amount of bifidus bacteria and the normalization of microbacterial flora in test subjects compared to the rest of the Mars-500 participants," said the report, which was delivered at the International Symposium on the results of the Mars-500 experiment.

The unique Moscow-based Mars-500 experiment was completed on November 4 last year.

Six volunteers were isolated from the outside world in a specially designed complex simulating a spaceship for 520 days. The experiment attempted to recreate at least some of the conditions of a flight to the Red Planet.

Source: RIA Novosti

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People to Land on Mars in Next 40 Years
Moscow (RIA Novosti) Apr 24, 2012
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