The Challenge of Getting to Mars
Space travel is a very interesting thing. It seems like this inexplicably, crazy thing because we still are understanding what's out there. It seems so futuristic but the more we blink the closer we get to something amazing.
President Barack Obama has set a goal to get Americans to Mars by the 2030's. The furthest any human has gone from Earth was when Apollo 13 orbited the far side of the moon on April 15, 1970. Mars is about 200 times further than the moon and is about a two to three year trip all together.
Can we really just go and be safe in the middle of space? The answer is yes... just not right now. Scientists are mainly concerned with the effect that galactic cosmic rays can have on the brain. These cosmic rays are a form of radiation that contains highly charged electric particles which can cause long-term damage to the central nervous system. This could lead to cognitive issues like memory loss, as well as anxiety, and impaired decision making.
This is a unique problem that space travelers have not had to deal with before. While in Earth's orbit, we are protected by Earth’s magnetosphere. Once we leave it, we are exposed to all of the Sun’s rays. We have the technology to protect from most of them, but we have never had to protect ourselves from cosmic rays. Scientists are working to find a solution to this problem, whether it be more material around the ship to block it out, or ideally, more advanced space suit material that can protect from the rays.
Hopefully, we'll have what we need to get us to Mars by the 2030s like Obama declared. If we don't and they go anyways… I'd watch that movie.