Forget what you’ve read in science fiction novels, or saw in television and movies regarding romantic liaisons and child-rearing in outer space.
Recent scientific studies have revealed some cold, hard facts about what human procreation could mean once we start long space trips and visits to other planets, such as Mars.
According to a Space.com report, women traveling to Mars could be sterilized from radioactive particles “bombarding” the spacecraft while en route to the red planet.
“The present shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy transited to Mars,” radiation biophysicist Tore Straume of NASA Ames Research Center, lead author of the review published in the Journal of Cosmology said in the article.
Those same particles, which are generated from sun flares and other outer space phenomena, could also impact the reproductive systems of males, according to the article.
The report said that even streams of low dose radioactive particles would likely damage egg cells in females and sperm cells in males.
Children conceived in space could also face damage to cells as they develop, such as the brain, possibly causing mental challenges and other detrimental conditions.
If that’s not bad enough, the report said that once on Mars, the lower gravitational pull, which is about one-third of Earth’s, would impact muscle development and the normal growth processes that we take for granted here, according to a BGR.com article.
Scientists are not sure if a woman could even carry and give birth to a child on Mars due to the environmental differences.
If they could, scientists say such offspring would likely be an entirely new sub-species of humans, according to the article.
This intergenerational puzzle will need a solution of some kind before mankind ventures too far out into the cosmos because of the time and vast distances they would need to cover, making procreation a vital part of successful space travel and colonization of any planets visited, according to the article.
The need is so great that some scientists say romance may not be a factor and that men and women could be paired off together to procreate by determining whose genes demonstrate the best chance for survival.
Another Space.com article says that currently, sex in space is taboo among astronauts.
NASA Astronaut Alan Poindexter told reporters during a press conference in Japan that there is little time or focus on sex while on a mission in space.
“We are a group of professionals,” he said in the article. “We treat each other with respect and we have a great working relationship. Personal relationships are not… an issue. We don’t have them and we won’t.”