Astronauts going to Mars will absorb crazy amounts of radiation. Now that we Know how much.

An artistic view of ESA’s Trace Gas Orbiter at work around Mars.

(D. Ducros/ESA)

There are plenty of challenges to put people on Mars, or you look at the rocket, the astronaut, or the planet itself.

New data from one of the many spacecraft at work around Mars to confirm how dangerous a round-trip human journey would be by measuring the amount of radiation that an astronaut would experience.

Cosmic radiation is made up of very small particles move incredibly fast, almost the speed of light — the kind of phenomenon is a human body is not well armed against. That radiation travels over the whole space, but the Earth’s atmosphere buffers us from the worst of the consequences. That means that the further from the earth’s surface, the more cosmic radiation your body absorbs. [Space Radiation Threat to Astronauts Explained (Infographic)]

By the time you’re traveling to and from Mars, that is a very big problem. “Dose of radiation that the astronauts in interplanetary space would be hundreds of times greater than the doses that people have about the same period on Earth, and many times greater than the doses of the astronauts and cosmonauts working on the International Space Station,” Jordanka Semkova, a physicist at Bulgarian Academy of Sciences and a scientist of the new study, said in a statement. “Our results show that the journey itself would make for a very significant exposure for the astronauts to radiation.”

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These results are based on data from the European Space Agency Trace Gas Orbiter, a spacecraft that is circling the Red Planet since 2016. One of the instruments that it carries a dosimeter, which is the taking of measurements in the orbiter of the trip.

According to the team behind the new research, which measurements, it appears that only travel to and from Mars would expose astronauts to at least 60 percent of the current recommended maximum career exposure.

What exactly is the recommended maximum varies with gender and age, but it varies from 1 sievert for a 25-year-old woman to 4 sieverts for a 55-year-old man. (The measurement of sieverts are already taking into account the differences in weight.)

But 60 percent for the round-trip in particular, because presumably the point of going to Mars is to spend at least a little time on the surface of the planet — ideal, without an overdose of radiation.

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