Space is filled with radiation that can harm people. Once astronauts are out in space they are exposed by a shower of dangerous particles that are known as cosmic rays, which can ultimately harm their brains and accelerate the development of Alzheimer’s disease.
This was revealed in a new study that was done on mice. Kerry O’ Banion- author of the study and neuroscientist at the University of Rochester stated, “ that this study shows for the first time that the exposure to radiation levels equivalent to a mission to Mars could produce cognitive problems and speed up changes in the brain that are associated with Alzheimer’s disease.”
This is of concern to NASA because for over 25 years they have funded studies to understand the potential dangers of space travel. Their past research analyzed the potential impact of cosmic rays on the risk for cancer and potential problems with the cardiovascular or musculoskeletal systems.
Today, NASA studied the effects of space radiation on the biological processes in the brain linked with the development of Alzheimer’s disease. The study looked at one particular kind of space radiation known as high-mass, high-charged (HZE) particles. According to the scientist this kind of radiation travels through space at high speeds,that is likely the result of exploding stars and other catastrophes in space. HZE particles have a mass and speed so strong that they can go through solid objects. This is bad news because these particles can ultimately travel through a spacecraft, or any astronaut for that matter. O’Banion even said that, “one would have to essentially wrap a spacecraft in a 6-foot (2 meters) block of lead or concrete.”