GCR Radiation Prevents Humans from Colonizing Mars

solar system

Scientists at NASA rule out the possibility of living on Mars due to GCR radiation.

Even though the efforts to colonize other planets have intensified greatly in the recent years, settling down on Mars is yet far from human reach, and if something, only a dream, according to NASA scientists. Even though the space agency avoids the subject or does not attract attention when it comes to it, there are many risk factors that would prevent humans from surviving on the red planet.One such risk factor that would drastically impact a human’s life span outside the Earth are the GCRs, short for galactic cosmic rays.

These harmful rays represent the particles that are set free into space at incredible speeds following the death of a star.After the explosion, the GCRs packed with iron nuclei spread in every direction at speeds almost as fast as the speed of light and carry the equivalent force of a professional league fastball. Given these circumstances, the human body would not tolerate these fatal radiation doses and would eventually succumb.

The International Space Station Stay vs Life on Mars

Astronauts that have been traveling inside the International Space Station can cope with the small amounts of radiation because they benefit from protection. Mostly because the Earth still has a positive influence and partially shelters them from the GCR radiation. The astronauts who have already experienced the cosmic rays first hand describe them as bursts of light.

However, once a human leaves the safety of the Earth’s atmosphere he automatically subjects himself to large doses of radiation that carry a major negative effect on his health. Although the Space Station is somewhat protected from the GCR radiation, living on Mars or any other planet within our solar system, for that matter would be impossible. Mainly because the risks of developing fatal diseases due to radiation such as cancer would skyrocket.

Life Preserving Measures for Living on Mars

The element that is capable of repelling the harmful rays is water. However, in order to fully insulate a spacecraft, it would take roughly two cubic meters of water. Since one cubic meter weighs approximately 2,200 pounds, carrying this amount of water into space is impossible. Hence, the scientists do not yet have a way of protecting future colonies on Mars from the cosmic radiation.

A scenario in which humans can survive for relatively longer periods of time of Mars would be to live underground. However, this solution is hardly an appealing one. Since living on Mars proves to be impossible, the NASA scientists turn to Titan. This is one of Saturn’s moons that has water particles in its atmosphere. Much like on Earth, these would prevent the harmful radiation from coming into contact with humans. However, Titan is too far away. As a result, scientists at NASA focus on developing faster means for humans to cover large distances in space.

Image Source: Pixabay

About Waleed Javed

  • Bongstar420

    I want Musk to hedge up with this. Is he assuming geoengineering a thick atmosphere, and will that suffice without a strong magnetosphere?

    • hairspray

      Mars will lose atmosphere out to space at a certain rate, but if you can generate atmosphere (nitrogen, oxygen, co2, etc) at a faster rate than it is lost, then yes Mars can maintain a relatively thick layer of it.

    • RUreallyFree

      a strong magnetosphere is certainly a requirement to protect an atmosphere. I have always doubted the authenticity of the simple plan musk has advocated for mars. There were always risks that he never addressed. And GCR is just one of them.. I would presume he will likely adapt a robotic exploration first. It will be achievable short term and is likely the most efficient and quickest method for doing the type of real work required on mars before any human even considers stepping on it. I think he knows this..he must. But it does come off as disingenuous at the least and definitely irrational not to acknowlede the sorts of real barriers that exist on mars for human colonization. I can’t see any benefit of landing humans on mars hunkered down well below the surface under an ice sheet or other GCR dampening media. It would be more beneficial in the short and long term to develop the types of AI robotics needed to do the kinds of science and work on mars.

      a. machines are expendable and cheaper than humans, both in terms of power, food and resistance to extreme conditions…as the rovers have proved out. We can launch them with far less weight and cost concerns.

      b. the benefit if developing AI for these project will invariably lead to newer discoveries and the technologies we do not currently possess. Imagine version 400 of the curiosity… and what kinds of spin off applied science and technologies and intelligence that can use in other ways…some, right here on earth? power systems? agriculture 2.0 terra forming, etc.

      bottom line, is we need to move away from this notion of flying human bodies to other worlds. Our future depends on going about it more intelligently, literally.

  • Oh nonsense. While GCRs are a danger, like all the other kinds of radiation, these are engineering challenges, not scientific impossibilities.

    Mars has ice fields. Build a base under those.

    Traditional spacecraft require a lot of propellent. Use water as the propellent and put the crew. Compartment inside the water tank.

    Use robotic “space tugs” to capture a large ice comet and work it into a stable transfer orbit. Build a base inside the comet.

    …and so forth.

    Don’t declare impossible what is in fact a lack of imagination.

    • Dan Blake

      “Water powered space ships”, now there’s an idea…not a good one, but an idea. Lacking common sense is another matter.

      • claytoncramer

        Electrolyze water to hydrogen and oxygen from photovoltaics. Burn the hydrogen and oxygen.

        • John Hubert

          They could use Hydrogen fuel cells, since the waste product is water.

          • Dan Blake

            There is no “magic” formula to get more energy than is contained in ANY matter. Hydrogen produces very little water. You would need MUCH more than 4400 lbs. of HI. to produce 4400 lbs of water. And you would need ALL of that water at the beginning of the journey.

        • Dan Blake

          It’s called, “Brown’s gas” and it takes more energy to separate the two elements, than is produced by burning them – Physics.

    • RLL

      What you are missing is the fact that the water has to be traveling with the astronauts–accelerated with them, cruising with them and decelerating with them. That is a lot of weight.

      And once they get to Mars, the thin Martian atmosphere and near-zero martian magnetic field provide very little protection. Humans would have to burrow into the planet and live like prairie dogs. So, no, the problem isn’t lack of imagination. Some problems are very hard to solve. Some are not possible.

      • John McGinness

        I agree with you and Dan Blake I hope this ends this conversation with Boozy.
        Let’s work on straightening out the problems we face here on earth before we do any more talk of settling on Mars.

        • Jeffrey Erwin

          The silly dream of colonizing Mars is held and advanced by those who would rather ignore our earthly problems than try to solve them.

      • John Hubert

        Well you don’t have to have it as water initially. I’d imagine you could utilize Hydrogen fuel cells since the byproduct of it’s use is water.

        Also it would likely take time, but you could start underground until enough water has been found/created, then build a sort of water containing dome using machines. Once that’s done, create the actual above ground living facility under the dome.

  • Danny Gilmore

    leave it be, we don’t need to be ruining any other planets.

  • RUreallyFree

    given GCR represent a real danger and presuming the same applies to just about any other potential planet, it appears at least in the short term the viable method will likely continue to be robotic exploration. This is the most efficient and least dangerous strategy. There are multiple benefits of developing AI for these adventures, just as we all have benefited from all space efforts. We may discover new technology that would be significant to a better earth habitat for one. The other is of course, transhuman technologies. The benefits of continuing to push into space will create the technologies and other unknown benefits we may need to extend life on earth. Power technology, health sciences that allow humans to endure more extreme conditions, etc.

    Another long term (relatively speaking) is to look at mars are the test bed for terra forming. If we are to seriously consider how to travel large distances in search of potential planets to inhabit, we will undoubtedly face similar environmental hazards that exist or are similar to those on mars.

    If we look at mars as that wilderness that must be tamed, at these distances and resources required, we have a much better potential for doing the same for what may be much better potential later in our cycle, much farther out in our “neigborhood”.

    As we learned with space flight, the types of technology unknown at the time was a requirement to make just about everything we do today a possibility. We cannot discount that same process as we look to explore and then inhabit some of these worlds.

    It is more than imagination..it is hard work. The benefits we gain directly for living here on earth.

    I think the greatest threat to space exploration is not resources committed, but the political realities that often are involved. This will become even more extreme as the kind of polices required to continue these kinds of programs overlap multiple terms of political offices.

    Like the UN, I think it is time the world develop a science program that is less prone to interruptions from political powers whose agendas are disruptive and differ as often as 4 years.

    We are literally entering a new era, the space colony era. We aren’t there yet. But as we push toward it, the paradigm change will occur. If left to standard natural timelines, we may come up short. There is a real and strong possibility that we may be in that moment in our cycle on earth where we are running out of time, energy and resources, to actually make these goals achievable. We know what will happen over time. We cannot live on earth forever. Whether by natural disasters, world wars, nuclear wars, or a continuing political agenda dominated by risky schemes, a neutral unified world space exploration program is necessary to accelerate these initiatives and make other planets inhabitable.

    This is the first time in the history of mankind we are actually looking at earth risks that extend beyond 100-500-5000 years and seriously attempting to solve this problem with a plan b, c, and d.

    What we do in the next 50 years will dictate if we can even make a legitimate attempt.

    Right now, we are just hunting.

    It pleases me that the private investment is becoming the best means to actually achieve these goals and continue to develop the technologies required.

    The world powers should be encouraging all nation states to participate.

    what we discover in the next generation is probably going to decide the course of this specie.

  • Rezeya Montecore

    “The element that is capable of repelling the harmful rays is water.”

    Water is not an element, it’s a compound, and this is not science journalism, it’s clickbait.

  • Julius513

    Yea..Lots of luck and Mars is the best case scenario. That’s a winter wonderland of comfort and joy next to Venus, Mercury or any of the gas planets, and chunks of ice rock they call the outer planets. Face it , if you can’t get it straight on earth you are in trouble.

  • Bronson Rozier

    Tho not addressing this problem specifically, K.S. Robinson is a good hard science read on colonizing Mars. Some telescoping on time to terraform.

  • John Hubert

    I’d imagine the solution would be to start off underground using machines to build a shelter that, if need be, includes a dome of water. Once that’s constructed, then the actual living facility would be constructed.

    • KaptainKabul

      Ah! someone who thinks about solutions and not problems!
      You will come far with way of thinking!

  • Danny Gilmore

    Investing all that $ in the plight of species right here on earth on the brink of extinction would be a better idea.
    If a very small country like New Zealand can do it, for example “Kakapo Recovery”, God bless their hearts, Imagine if the entire world were to get involved.

  • Dan Blake

    Apart from the GCR problem, there lies the constant difference in gravity. Mars has 38% of Earths, the human body has evolved at our gravity. We are just now realizing the dramatic, and damaging effect of weightlessness. The long term effect of reduced gravity would cause prohibitive problems.

    • Jan Jansen

      Zero gravity (or rather, microgravity) has serious long term impact for reasons we understand fairly well. But we have no idea if low gravity has any impact. Mars has about 300.000x higher gravity than the space station. Is that enough? Who knows, but my guess is it is.

      • Dan Blake

        “Guess’s” generally, aren’t very well received in the scientific community. Mathematically speaking, the effects would probably be similar, but at apx. 2/3 the rate. And what little we do , to counteract those weightless effects back on earth dont’ work at 100% gravity, certainly not at 38%.

        • Jan Jansen

          You said low gravity would cause prohibitive problems. There is no evidence for that, and very little reason to believe 1/3 gravity would have dramatic consequences. There might be, but its not a fact like you stated, and its unlikely for humans not returning to earth. Its rather obvious it will have an impact on humans that will return after long stays; if you suddenly triple your apparent weight, your muscles and joints are going to suffer. But whether that “prohibitive” is another matter, and the opposite, doesnt seem likely based on our current understanding.

          • Dan Blake

            Fact: EVERYONE that has been in extended zero gravity, experiences back problems, in space and continually on earth. Vision is also a continuing problem. The human body has evolved to function in OUR gravity. Put it in any other gravitation scenario, and problems will occur, NASA knows this, but has yet to come up with a solution other than centrifugal gravitation. And they haven’t figured out how to do that. Then there is the unexplained bone density loss, that sofar is irreversible. So one begs the question, WHY ? And WHY NOT, fix Earth, rather than go to Mars and screw it up too ?

  • Jamie Palmer

    Stop scaring the public. I mean just stop. There are plenty of ways of shielding radiation. I taught nuclear power for goodness sake. Water is not the only one. This public scaring really upsets me. We have great minds out there to overcome obstacles. Just because we run across one, doesn’t mean run and hide. Pansy.

  • unlikelyepiphany

    Donald Trump doesn’t believe in climate problems on Mars. This problem doesn’t exist.

  • Marv Luse

    About the only thing one can reasonably conclude from this article is that Waleed Javed should have gravitated to the food service industry and left scientific journalism to educated adults, and we already know that most scientists are little more than clever idiot savants.

    I can imagine Mr. Javed in 17th century England publishing a pamphlet showing that colonizing the New World will be impossible for many similar reasons: North Atlantic storms, scurvy, crew running short of grog, et al. And, of course, once there, colonists would have to deal with BAIAB (Bad Asse Indians And Beares), a threat worse than cancer, as it causes immediate death. I imagine that an arrow or a tomahawk packs more energy than a professional baseball player’s fastball.

    Most of the problems outlined here are just engineering problems, difficult perhaps, but certainly not insurmountable.

    • ralph

      Those things could never happen ! You sail off the edge of the world first

  • ralph

    I got hit with a cosmic ray your brain really does interpet it as light, It felt like it pushed my head forward, I knew what it was when it happend but wow ! How many of those can a man take ?

  • Billy G

    “Since one cubic meter weighs approximately 2,200 pounds, carrying this amount of water into space is impossible.”

    Does anyone with a scientific background fact check this BS? The Hubble Telescope weighs 24,490 pounds, we’ve been able to lift multiple tons previously.