The next frontier as concerns the expedition to the stars has been a potential trip to Mars and even become settlers on the red planet. However, much research has to be done and NASA is currently considering what effects would be on the human body if the mission was greenlit.
There are several potential challenges to consider including long and brutal stretches of confinement and isolation as well as closed hostile environments, not to mention microgravity and pockets of radiation.
John Charles, the agency’s human research program associate director for Exploration Research Planning stated the drawing of any conclusions on the cumulative effects of exposure to space would need the observation of more astronauts spending a long time within the space environment.
NASA’s Human Research Program for Long-Term Missions
The Human Research Program that he works under is focused on the effects on the mind and body as concerns spending extended amounts of time in space. When Mikhail Kornienko and Scott Kelly went off on a one year, NASA mission while collaborating between NASA and Roscosmos, the space agency was anxious to ascertain the psychological and physiological effects of almost a year on the International Space Station after they had landed.
Interestingly, the performance and recovery for the two who had experienced the same amount of time outside the earth were far apart from each other.
The difference was then attributed to pre-flight training as well as experience. The goal of this would have been to assist in making it understand, diagnose and even mitigate the potential health issues which would have arisen because of prolonged space flight.
To this effect, other researchers and bodies are quickly gearing towards proposals which will be due on 4th January of 2018. NASA claimed the scientists submitting proposals ought to consider a strong programme which would entail up to 30 astronauts. 10 of them would handle the shorter missions of up to two months and 10 would be part of the standard six-month missions and the remaining 10 would be for one year long missions.
What will be deciphered in the health studies is going to be valuable when it comes to long-term missions to the moon as well as, certain asteroids as NASA flies closer to Mars. These would then influence the preparation course on Earth.
Sampling and Investigating Ancient Life
The other part of the research entails the composition of the planet itself and if there would be potential hazards to settlers. NASA revealed plans to bring back samples from Mars for the first time with the assistance of its next rover mission within the next 3 years. After landing, a drill would take a sample rocks while a robotic arm seals the samples.
The samples would then be deposited on the Martian surface so they could be picked up on the next Mars mission. Mars 2020 would rely on designs created previously for the Mars rover in 2012. In spite of the similar structure to the Mars Science lab, the new mission has a different objective. This time, the goal is seeking the ancient life signs.