Sending human travelers to Mars would require scientists and engineers to overcome a range of technological and safety obstacles. One of them is the grave risk posed by particle radiation from the sun, distant stars and galaxies.
Answering two key questions would go a long way toward overcoming that hurdle: Would particle radiation pose too grave a threat to human life throughout a round trip to the red planet? And, could the very timing of a mission to Mars help shield astronauts and the spacecraft from the radiation?
In a new article published in the peer-reviewed journal Space Weather, an international team of space scientists, including researchers from UCLA, answers those two questions with a “no” and a “yes.”
That is, humans should be able to safely travel to and from Mars, provided that the spacecraft has sufficient shielding and the round trip is shorter than approximately…