Solar radiations are fiercer than you can even imagine. Life on Earth is possible only because of the preserving magnetosphere. But what about the astronauts who aren’t fully guarded against the adverse effects of space radiation?
No doubt, there is a strong relationship between space radiation and biology as it affects people mercilessly, leaving them with long-term cancer, radiation diseases, drastic effects on Central Nervous System, and congenital effects.
The two common sources of radiation are from the Sun and Space. These radiations have highly charged particles and high-energy protons, which can damage both biological and mechanical systems. So long-term exploration means an increase in exposure to these effects.
Read: Can We Live on Mars?
Effects of dose of Ionizing Radiation:
The extent to which ionizing radiation causes damage depends on the type, the dose, and the human body part which gets affected. It is important to keep in mind that the dose changes the biological effects of mild and chronic radiation exposure.
As research by NASA suggests that, an average dose of radiation received by a person can be 3 mSv/year with no possible harm while a dose of 1 Sv/year can result in radiation sickness i.e. vomiting and nausea. In special cases, if a person receives a dose of 10,000 mSv/year, he is likely to be subject to immediate death in a couple of days or weeks.
A Dose of 0.01 mSv (1 mrem) Equals 1 year of living next door to a normally operating nuclear power plant
How damage to the DNA is the Root cause of other problems?
Ionizing radiation affects the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) of the human body which is the root cause of all other health problems. This is because it contains the information required by other cells to function properly. So ultimately when it gets damaged (either because of loss of strand or base) the other cells lose their information which leads to complete function failure. The intensity of the ion, directly or indirectly affects it as the ions flow into the DNA, it can lose energy to its neighboring molecules.
How type of radiation determines the damage?
Radiations can be of two types i.e. ionizing and non-ionizing. The non-ionizing radiation has less energy as compared to ionizing radiation.
As the name suggests ionizing radiation can ionize an atom or molecule by removing an electron from its orbit. While the less energetic non-ionizing radiation does not possess any such capability. The ionizing radiation includes heat or light from the Sun, oven microwaves, X-rays, and gamma rays from radioactive elements while the non-ionizing radiation includes ultraviolet light, microwaves, radio waves, visible and infrared lights.
Thus, ionizing radiation in space can prove more dangerous and can damage more. However, this should be kept in mind that the non-ionizing radiation is also harmful to both living and non-living objects. Thus precautions should be taken to avoid unnecessary risks.
Other possible risks and symptoms:
Other possible risks and symptoms which are likely to appear because of space radiations include:
- Bleeding and inflammation due to lowered amounts of platelets in blood.
- Restrained function of the immune system due lowered amounts of white blood cells.
- Destroys molecules such as DNA.
- Fertility decreases or permanent sterility occurs.
In order to keep astronauts safe and healthy and to promote long-term space missions, it is necessary for us to devise methods in order to estimate risks. These methods help us to understand and reduce risks for astronauts. In addition, these practices help in the development of improved radiation-shielding material.