A Strong Solar Storm Hit Mars, Increasing The Planet’s Radiation Levels

A massive solar storm hit Mars on Sept. 11 and triggered a global aurora over the Red Planet more than 25 times brighter than perceived beforehand by the MAVEN orbiter. In addition to that, this powerful blast from the sun augmented the radiation levels of the planet. This could be a precaution for future Mars explorers.

NASA stated that the radiation levels that had been generated after the solar storm hit Mars had more than doubled than previously gauged by the Curiosity Rover’s Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) since its landing in 2012. The high radiation levels lasted more than two days.

Space radiation is one of the problems that future astronauts are facing. This is because it causes health hazards such as having risks of degenerative tissue effects, carcinogenesis, central nervous system (CNS) and acute radiation syndrome from SPEs.

Tony Slaba, a NASA research physicist, said that identifying the astronaut health consequences following radiation exposure involve very complex processes. He further said that it is difficult to quantify exactly how radiation is interacting with tissues and cells and what could be the outcome regarding potential diseases and the biological system effects.

Likewise, Peter Guida, the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory liaison biologist, said that the primary means by which radiation provokes cells is by damaging DNA. There could be broken strands that might be experienced, as noted by Wall Street Pit.

NASA is using RAD findings for preparing the protection and safety of human crew missions to Mars. These strong solar events could increase the radiation that infiltrates the atmosphere to the surface of the planet Mars. And the increased radiation could also generate additional secondary particles, which must be safeguarded in order to protect the space explorers.

Meanwhile, Don Hassler, with the Southwest Research Institute and RAD principal investigator, said that RAD will enhance their understanding of how such solar events affect the Martian environment, from the top of the atmosphere all the way down to the surface. He further said that to protect the astronauts on Mars in the future, they need to continue to provide this type of space weather monitoring there.

[Featured Image by Solarseven/Thinkstock]