Addressing Astronauts’ Health Problems in Space: Challenges and Solutions for Future Mars Missions
Significant astronauts’ health problems arise in space, including radiation exposure, gravitational changes, and mental health isolation. (Photo: TS2 Space)
Astronauts’ Health Problems: The Crucial Concerns on Mars Missions
According to Space article, in May of 2023, a historic achievement was reached as 17 people concurrently circled the Earth, marking a noteworthy advancement in human space exploration. As NASA, various space agencies, and private enterprises gear up for additional crewed missions, the focus turns to the astronauts’ health problems that they encounter during space journeys, particularly as NASA prepares for a Mars expedition in the 2030s. Penned by a kinesiologist with expertise in astronaut well-being who is actively involved in a NASA initiative, this explores the health issues that will be faced by those participating in future Mars missions.
A primary concern is Space Radiation. Beyond Earth’s protective magnetosphere, astronauts’ health problems contend with continuous radiation exposure, akin to thousands of chest X-rays. This radiation endangers the nervous and cardiovascular systems, with potential cardiovascular disease and blood-brain barrier damage. NASA counters this with radiation-deflecting materials and explores diets and supplements, like enterade, to mitigate radiation’s harm.
Gravitational Changes pose another challenge. Astronauts must exercise diligently to combat muscle and bone loss sans Earth’s gravity. Supplements like bisphosphonate, used against osteoporosis, are crucial for musculoskeletal health during extended missions. Microgravity shifts bodily fluids towards the head, causing health issues like spaceflight-associated neuro-ocular syndrome. Specialized “pants” are under development to redistribute fluids and alleviate these effects.
Astronauts’ Health Problems: Psychological Challenges in the Cosmos
According to Down to Earth article, addressing Mental Health and Isolation in space is crucial. Prolonged isolation from family and friends in a confined group setting can lead to profound psychological challenges. Astronauts undergo intensive team training on Earth to foster camaraderie and stress management. Researchers actively explore methods to monitor and support astronauts’ behavioral mental health during isolating missions.
Despite these challenges, astronauts often experience an “overview effect” when witnessing Earth from space, instilling a profound sense of awe and connection with humanity. It also underscores the wider benefits of space research, potentially enhancing cancer treatment, addressing aging-related frailty, and advancing technologies like water purification and satellite systems. While astronauts’ health problems remain a critical concern, these missions offer invaluable insights that extend far beyond the bounds of our planet.