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Deep space travel could leave astronauts terminally ill, new research suggests.
Experts believe radiation exposure on long-distance, intergalactic trips could significantly damage their stomachs and intestines.
Impairments - Absorption - Cancer
This is likely to result in long-term functional impairments, such as ineffective nutrient absorption, or cancer.
Scientists made the discovery after exposing mice to low doses of electrically charged iron particles, one of the most harmful forms of galactic cosmic radiation (GCR).
Atoms - Molecules - Charge - Ions
Atoms and molecules that carry an electric charge are known as ions.
Lead scientist Dr Kamal Datta, from Nasa’s Specialised Centre of Research at Georgetown University in Washington DC, said: 'With the current shielding technology, it is difficult to protect astronauts from the adverse effects of heavy ion radiation.
Way - Medicines - Effects - Agent
'Although there may be a way to use medicines to counter these effects, no such agent has been developed yet.
'While short trips, like the times astronauts travelled to the moon, may not expose them to this level of damage, the real concern is lasting injury from a long trip such as a Mars or other deep space missions which would be much longer.'
Ions - Iron - Act - Bullets - X-rays
Heavy ions such as iron and silicon act like tiny, fast-moving bullets and are more destructive than X-rays and gamma rays, which are mass-less high frequency forms of light.
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