I saw this on Space.com – Mars Explorers Will Tackle Radiation, Depression … and Space Bread – Space Saturdays July 6, 2019: https://www.space.com/news/mars-explorers-will-tackle-radiation-depression-and-space-bread.
NEW YORK — Sending astronauts to Mars will be hard, but a panel of experts considered the details of how to make it work — from living underground to exercising in space and even making bread on the Red Planet — during an in-depth, imaginative conversation at this year’s World Science Festival.
The route to the main topic here for the May 29 event “We Will Be Martians” included an early pit stop to discuss the moon. In particular, the panel described how a crewed lunar-return project like Artemis, recently proposed by NASA, could support a human mission to Mars.
Cagle also discussed the NASA Twins Study, in which astronaut Scott Kelly lived for nearly a year in space while his identical twin, astronaut Mark Kelly, remained on Earth as an experimental control. The goal of the study was to see how microgravity, the weightlessness astronauts experience in low-Earth orbit, affects the human body in long-duration spaceflight.
The study offered information about how vulnerable the human body is in space. One idea Cagle offered to boosting immunity involves stem cells, which perhaps could be harvested from astronauts and then replanted back into the original astronaut bodies, Cagle said. This would combat some of the damage the body would experience in space. Cagle, who is also a physician, added that people planning long-term spaceflight will have to consider procedures to repair injuries in low gravity. Instruments that could keep blood contained would be important, since liquids would float.
It’s not just physical health that would need attention and mending. Mental health is also important and could deteriorate due to sleep deprivation or lack of creative activities and physical exercise. Cagle said activities that are restorative and refreshing, like movement, photography, music and art, would be critical.CLOSE
These sealed environments are nevertheless critical for any attempt at human exploration of the Red Planet. Panelists said NASA needs to understand the dust storms and planetary seasons that could erode the walls or doors of a human habitat.
And while getting underground could protect humans from dangerous radiation, that would require artificial lighting, which could lead to depression.
There are also the microscopic multitudes to keep in mind. The trillions of bacteria, viruses and fungi that dwell in almost every human body part, also known as the human microbiome, could change in space as it responds to a new environment, which would affect a crew’s resiliency. Mars missions would also have to adhere to planetary-protection guidelines; every mission that launches to another world needs to be free of Earthly microbes that could contamination another celestial body.
The panelists also briefly discussed cooking on Mars. Space scientist Kim Binsted noted that a bag a flour offers a longer-term source of food than a sealed meal. And while cooking on Mars presents its challenges — because, for example, there’s less gravity — finding a way to send along ingredients rather than single meals could extend a mission’s food supply or reduce a spacecraft’s weight.
“So, we’ll be making our own bread on Mars?” asked Sherr.
“That’s what I’m saying!” replied Binsted.
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