In the context of the 50th anniversary of the first man landing on the Moon, this presentation will review health issues from Apollo lunar astronauts, the only humans to have traveled beyond Earth’s magnetosphere compared to astronauts who flew only in low Earth orbit (LEO).
The existing record for the longest consecutive space flight is 438 days, and the most accrued time in space is 878 days. The longest time spent outside the protection of the Earth's Van Allen radiation belt is about 12 days for the Apollo 17 moon landing. This is minor in comparison to the 1100-day journey planned by the various space agencies to go to Moon and to Mars.
As many nations contemplate extended manned missions to Mars and the Moon, health risks will increase as travel goes beyond the Earth’s protective magnetosphere into the more intense deep space radiation environment.
Mars is the focus of much scientific study about possible human colonization. Many different biological functions can be negatively affected by the environment of Mars colonies. Due to higher levels of radiation, there are a multitude of physical side-effects that must be mitigated. In addition Martian soil contains high levels of toxins which are hazardous to human health.
As the Belgian Nuclear Research Centre (SCK•CEN) is much involved in space life science programmes, part of this presentation will be devoted to the current space health research programme as well space radiation dosimetry and the control and use of microbes to support human life in space.