What are the Biggest Challenges of Space Travel?

Star Wars may have you believing that asteroids or hostile alien life are the greatest challenges of space travel but scientists are discovering that dust is actually the biggest obstacle.

What are the Biggest Challenges of Space Travel?

Star Wars may have you believing that the greatest challenges of space travel are asteroids, a lack of resources such as water or fuel, or even the threat of hostile alien life. But in reality, scientists are discovering that the biggest obstacle to current space travel is dust. A study conducted by MIT revealed that when a group of people were confined in a simulated Mars habitat for 18 months, some participants soon experienced depression and mood changes. They also became hostile and had limited interactions with each other.

This has caused some researchers to question future plans to send two astronauts to Mars in a single spaceship, as they may become bored, depressed, and even start to dislike each other. However, some researchers think this is unlikely to happen if the two astronauts have compatible personalities. Global dust storms occur every 5.5 Earth years (three Martian years) and could last for months. In addition to covering solar panels, they could also prevent sunlight from reaching Mars, potentially endangering stations and astronauts.

Fortunately, dust storms on Mars are unlikely to cause serious physical damage to seasons. The levels of food and oxygen in the habitat are related because plants produce oxygen as a by-product. On Mars, that oxygen will be used to maintain the lives of astronauts. The MIT study revealed that plants will produce excess oxygen if they produce enough food to feed all the inhabitants of the habitat.

This could be dangerous for astronauts as breathing excessive amounts of oxygen could kill them. However, oxygen levels would balance out if plants produced smaller amounts of food, which wouldn't be enough to feed everyone. The researchers claim that this problem could be solved by developing an “oxygen removal system”, which does not exist for now. The race to take the first human to Mars is currently led by NASA, SpaceX and Blue Origin.

All three organizations already have spaceships that could take us to Mars but their rockets use hazardous fuels and would take too long to reach Mars from the point of view of human security. NASA is trying to solve this problem by developing the Space Launch System that uses liquid hydrogen and some other chemicals as fuel. SpaceX is considering modifying its spacecraft to use liquid methane as fuel, while Blue Origin settles for liquid hydrogen. As the possibility of carrying out long-term manned space missions to the Moon and even to Mars becomes reality, scientists have begun to address the problems posed by surgery in space.

The unique environment of space means that sick astronauts are more likely to die from injuries and minor infections there than on Earth. Astronauts sent to the International Space Station (ISS) are usually trained to perform certain medical procedures but they would have to quickly return to Earth in a spacecraft permanently docked on the ISS if they have more serious medical problems. This could be a big problem because a one-way trip to Mars could take six months. Solar storms are also unpredictable, making the situation worse.

One solution is to develop a spacecraft that can get astronauts to Mars much faster. Astronauts are not exempt from radiation risks even when they arrive at Mars. When finished, the MAV will weigh 18 tons and will carry an additional 33 tons of fuel to take off from Mars. This enormous weight means that it will not be able to land safely on Mars due to the planet's thin atmosphere, which could cause the MAV to burn up in the atmosphere or crash directly to the ground.

For comparison, the heaviest thing we have landed on Mars is the Curiosity rover, which weighs just one ton. The ERV was also created to reduce weight; instead of creating a single spacecraft that will take off from Mars and return astronauts to Earth, NASA will create a two-part system consisting of the MAV and the ERV. Two types of risk, radiation and altered gravity, come simply from being in space; research has shown that both can have significant negative effects on the body and even on the brain. Others such as isolation and confinement as well as being in a closed and hostile environment include risks posed by living situations necessary in space; these risks can affect mental and physical health.

These standards describe everything from how much space astronauts should have in a spaceship to how much muscle and bone loss an astronaut can experience without suffering serious damage; all types of risks must be closely considered when planning future missions. Similarly, experiments on the space station will help us prepare for risks on the Moon and Mars; these subsequent phases are based on knowledge gained in simulations conducted under simulated conditions on Earth from isolation experiments in Antarctica to exposure at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island (New York). Alcuberre's theoretical propulsion would compress space in front of your ship and expand space behind it so things in between where your ship is located actually move faster than light; scientists from Superconducting Space Radiation Shield project are working on...

Kara Counihan
Kara Counihan

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