NASA has announced that astronauts could survive Mars radiation after the Mars Curiosity Rover discovered that the radiation levels are not, according to initial measurements, lethal to humans.
Don Hessler, the Principal Investigator for the rover’s Radiation Assessment Detector, stated during a press conference on Thursday, “Absolutely, astronauts can live in this environment.”
CNN cautions, however, that we shouldn’t pack our bags yet, as there is still radiation a person would soak up during the nine months it take to get to Mars, as well as the eight to nine months back. An astronaut would need to spend at least six months on the surface of Mars, and stay within the career limits for radiation.
Researchers will get all of the radiation numbers over time, allowing them to create a better assessment of exactly how much radiation an astronaut would be exposed to during a journey to Mars.
Hassler added that there have been no massive solar flares since Curiosity landed on the surface of Mars on August 6th, but when one occurs it will help scientists understand more about spikes in radiation that astronauts may face while on Mars’ surface.
CBS News notes that Hassler stressed the findings of RAD (Radiation Assessment Detector) are preliminary and his team has not yet put hard numbers on Martian radiation levels, though they expect to soon. He stated:
“We’re working on that, and we’re hoping to release that at the AGU meeting in December. Basically, there’s calibrations and characterizations that we’re finalizing to get those numbers precise.”
The key for learning if astronauts will be safe on their way to and from Mars, as well as during their stay, will be to measure the radiation from the bigger solar flares.