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NASA Mars project: radiation risk of highest concern
by Dmitry Vostok
Moscow (Voice of Russia) Jan 31, 2014

File image.

Russian Anastasia Stepanova is through to the second round of applicant selection for the Mars One program. Anastasia, a Moscow resident, could end up among the 20 finalists that will embark on a one-way trip to the Red Planet. Igor Mitrofanov of the Space Research Institute at the Russian Academy of Sciences told the Voice of Russia that the largest risk comes from a "very big radiation doze which will be accumulated during this trip."

The Voice of Russia discussed the topic with Igor Mitrofanov, principal investigator of the Russian space experiment DAN on board of NASA Curiosity Mars rover.

What kind of people do you think would want to embark on a one-way mission to Mars? It is kind of suicidal, isn't it?

First of all, I would like to tell you my personal opinion that, of course, the exploration of Mars is very important and, probably, this is now the most important strategic goal of the space exploration for our countries.

On the other hand, I think that the work has to be done by the professional people who take into account all the current scientific knowledge and also technology developments. It is my personal opinion, but I cannot accept quite seriously the current attempt to make one-way trip to Mars, which is now under consideration.

Since it is a one-way trip and so many people have filed applications to go there, what do you think about these people? What kind of people would want to take such a suicidal selfless mission?

I believe that these people are not professional in space science and technology, because would they be professional, they probably would not make this application, because they would have known how difficult this is and what big risk is associated with this attempt. I think that probably these people have some interest in these extreme games when people decide to do something risky by themselves just to experience some emotions out of this action.

With this risk that you see, because these people are not professionals, what do you think could go wrong during this mission?

I think the most important thing is not even that these people are not professionals as the astronauts or cosmonauts, I think it is possible to pass a necessary training. The largest risk is the interplanetary flight itself.

The largest risk comes from radiation, from a very big radiation doze which will be accumulated during this trip. And we know that sometimes there are very strong solar particle events - solar flares - which produce the doze that is not acceptable for the human being in space.

And this is the biggest risk and we are still working to resolve this problem, to understand how we'll go to Mars in future. But still have no professional developments which will mitigate or remove this risk. This is the most important problem.

Source: Voice of Russia


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