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Lava tubes on Mars could serve as natural settlements that protect humans from deadly radiation

Scientists are developing suitable shelters for the first explorers of Mars, but a new study believes the Red Planet can provide natural settlements for the pioneers.

After surveying 1,500 images taken by the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, a team of experts believe they have discovered a solution – ‘lava tubes.’

An area, known as Hellas Planitia in the southern hemisphere, is sprouting with volcanic formations that could be used to protect the crew from radiation – exposure drops by 82 percent inside the pits – and harsh weather patterns.

The caverns could also be closed off, allowing astronauts to add technology to heat the structure and create a breathable environment inside. 

Researches are now urging NASA to use this region as a landing site, as it receives 50 percent less radiation than other parts of Mars due to the lower elevation.

 

An area, known as Hellas Planitia in the southern hemisphere, is sprouting with volcanic formations that could be used to protect the crew from radiation – exposure drops by 82 percent inside the pits – and harsh weather patterns

The lava tubes are made from flowing magma and created when the flowing channels cool rapidly and form a strong crust over the subsurface of the lava.

The lava flow ultimately stops, drains out of the tube and leaves an empty space several feet under the surface.

Hellas Planitia, which is an impact basin in Mar’s southern hemisphere, formed approximately 4.1 billion to 3.8 billion years ago when a massive asteroid hit the surface.

Along the northeastern edge of Hellas is an ancient volcanic mountain, called Hadriacus Mons, which allowed for lava tubes to form around the area.

Researches are now urging NASA to use this region as a landing site, as it receives 50 percent less radiation than other parts of Mars due to the lower elevation. Pictured is a colorful image of Hellas Planitia

Researches are now urging NASA to use this region as a landing site, as it receives 50 percent less radiation than other parts of Mars due to the lower elevation. Pictured is a colorful image of Hellas Planitia

‘The lava tubes near Hadriacus Mons, consequently, could be used as natural radiation shelters and habitats for a crewed mission to the planet,’ reads the study led by Antonio Paris, chief scientist at the Center for Planetary Science.

‘These natural caverns have roofs estimated to be tens of meters thick, which would provide the crew protection from not only exposure to too much radiation, but also the bombardment of micrometeorites, exposure to dangerous soil perchlorates due to long-term dust storms, and extreme temperature fluctuations.’

In March, NASA had shared an image, originally snapped in 2011, of lava tube inside of a volcano on Mars, which sits on the side of Pavonis Mons (pictured)

In March, NASA had shared an image, originally snapped in 2011, of lava tube inside of a volcano on Mars, which sits on the side of Pavonis Mons (pictured)

Researchers found that inside the lava tubes, exposure to radiation drops by 82 percent and explains that the caverns could also be sealed off.

This would allow astronauts to add technology for producing heat and to create a breathable atmosphere. 

‘The results of this investigation indicate that the proposed lava tubes southwest of Hadriacus Mons can and should be utilized to serve as natural shelters for a crewed mission to the planet.’

Scientists are developing suitable shelters for the first explorers of Mars, but a new study believes the Red Planet can provide natural settlements for the pioneers

Scientists are developing suitable shelters for the first explorers of Mars, but a new study believes the Red Planet can provide natural settlements for the pioneers

In March, NASA had shared an image, originally snapped in 2011, of a lava tube inside of a volcano on Mars, which sits on the side of Pavonis Mons.

The opening is around 115 feet wide and the cavern below is around 65 feet beneath the surface which NASA’s scientists believe was formed by ancient channels of lava.

‘Holes such as this are of particular interest because their interior caves are relatively protected from the harsh surface of Mars, making them relatively good candidates to contain Martian life,’ NASA writes.

‘These pits are therefore prime targets for possible future spacecraft, robots, and even human interplanetary explorers.’

HOW DOES SPACE RADIATION IMPACT ASTRONAUTS’ HEALTH?

Astronauts journeying to Mars would likely be bombarded with 700 times the levels of radiation experienced on Earth.

Even on the International Space Station, astronauts are exposed to 200 times more radiation as a result of their work than would be experienced by an airline pilot or a radiology nurse.

As a result, NASA is constantly monitoring local space weather information.

If a burst of space radiation is detected, mission control in Houston, Texas, can instruct astronauts to abort space walks, move to more shielded areas of the orbiting laboratory and even adjust the station’s altitude to minimise any health impacts.

Solar flare activity can cause acute radiation exposure effects — such as changes to the blood, diarrhoea, nausea, and vomiting — which can be recovered from, and other impacts that are non-reversible and/or fatal.

Long-term cosmic ray bombardment is a greater concern.

This can increases the risks of cancer, generate cataracts and cause sterility.

It can also cause damage to the brain, central nervous system and heart, paving the way for various degenerative diseases.

DNA changes from space radiation can even be passed on to subsequent children. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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