Space exploration is an exciting and ambitious endeavor, but it also comes with a number of risks. From the lack of atmosphere to radiation exposure, there are a number of potential dangers that astronauts must be aware of before they embark on their journey. The first risk is the lack of atmosphere. On Earth, we rely on air to breathe, but in space, there is no atmosphere.
This can cause a number of changes in the body, such as the movement of fluids. On Earth, our muscles work to pump fluids through the body against gravity, and gravity helps return them. In space, however, astronauts enter a lightweight environment and their muscles continue to function as if they were on Earth. This can cause fluids to be pumped and concentrated in the upper body, leading to a swelling of the head and increased pressure at the back of the eye, which can change its shape and vision.
To counteract these changes, astronauts exercise for two hours a day on devices such as treadmills and ARES machines. The vestibular or balance system is also affected by the absence of gravity. Within this system, in our inner ear, there are small crystals that give us information about our orientation. Without gravity, there is no signal to tell the body which direction it is “up” in. The mismatch between the information that astronauts see and information from the vestibular system often causes a feeling of dizziness or space sickness. The second risk is radiation exposure.
Research has shown that both cosmic radiation and supernovae outside our galaxy can have significant negative effects on the body and even on the brain. These can include anxiety, depression and decision-making problems. Other risks include isolation and confinement, as well as being in a closed and hostile environment. These risks pose a threat to both mental and physical health. To reduce these risks, scientists are working on a magnesium diboride superconductor that would divert charged particles away from a spacecraft. They are also developing standards that describe everything from the amount of space astronauts should have in a spacecraft to the amount of muscle and bone loss an astronaut can experience without suffering serious damage. Finally, scientists are using tools such as the Deep Space Network to help navigate space safely.
This set of antenna arrays in California, Australia and Spain is essential for space exploration. Space exploration is an exciting endeavor but it comes with its own set of risks. By understanding these risks and taking steps to reduce them, we can ensure safe travel to Mars and beyond.