The findings will help develop technologies to mitigate the impact of radiation and help with the UAE’s efforts to establish a human base on Mars.
A new research finding on radiation will support the UAE’s ambitious project to build the first human settlement on Mars by 2117, a scientist has said.
“Radiation is one of the biggest roadblocks in planning long-term space missions, especially the project to establish a human presence on Mars,” said Dr Dimitra Atri, research scientist at Centre for Space Science, New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD).
His team has been able to calculate the amount of radiation dose deposited in different organs of the human body from astrophysical sources very precisely.
“We found that radiation exposure to astronauts is comparable to the dose that cancer patients receive during radiation treatment,” he said. “By comparing our calculations with radiation therapy data, we have been able to estimate health risks to astronauts from background radiation in space [Galactic Cosmic Rays] and solar storms [Solar Proton Events],” Atri said.
He said the findings will help develop technologies to mitigate the impact of radiation and help with the UAE’s efforts to establish a human base on Mars.
First city on Mars
As announced in 2017, the UAE’s Mars 2117 project includes putting in place a programme to prepare Emiratis for Mars and space exploration. The project aims to build the first city on Mars in 100 years, which will be achieved through various scientific alliances.
The project will be associated with research themes around building houses and producing energy and food. It will also try to find faster transportation methods for travelling to and from Mars.
Space biology laboratory
Dr Atri said a planned space biology laboratory at the Centre for Space Science at NYUAD will support the UAE’s research aboard the International Space Station (ISS).
“The laboratory will have two components: A microgravity component, which will simulate microgravity for microbial samples, and a radiation component where we will expose microbial samples to UV radiation. The idea is to be able to simulate outer space-like conditions in the laboratory,” explained Atri, an astrophysicist interested in Mars, exoplanets, human spaceflight and astrobiology.
Using Hope probe data
The NYUAD Centre will be using data from Hope Probe, the UAE’s mission to Mars that took off in July, for these researches, Dr Atri said.
“One of our aims with the Hope probe data is to understand how background galactic cosmic radiation and radiation from abrupt solar storms interact with the Martian atmosphere,” the scientist said. “We will combine data from Hope Probe with NASA’s Curiosity rover data, which is based at the Gale crater on Mars to understand how radiation propagates all the way down to the surface of the planet. This will help us better understand the radiation environment on the surface of Mars in case of extreme events which will be very useful in planning human missions on Mars,” Atri explained.
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