The possibility for people to visit other planets one day has never looked so real as in the last few years, but a few more obstacles have to be overcome before it becomes a reality.
Some people believe that incredible scientific discoveries probably do not wait for the red planet, and NASA has recently increased its efforts hoping to send astronauts there by 2030.
Cosmic radiation is one of the biggest problems facing visitors to Mars, and it comes not only from the Sun but also from the starry explosions that occur far from our solar system.
Particle radiation in space can collide with nuclei in the human tissue, creating a nuclear collision that created new particles and damage to human DNA cells. Interestingly magnetic field protects us from those same particles, but astronauts would go to Mars, they could be exposed to these particles for years, if they were without protection.
Now NASA looks at several ways to solve those challenges, including the use of drugs that will wash the DNA of astronauts. They believe that this could help repair the damage caused by high-energy particles that will bomb it when they visit the planet.
This approach was also mentioned by Dr. Douglas Terrier, the chief technologist of the NASA agency, ahead of the London Codex Innovation Summit Summit. Protective suits are also suggested as an opportunity, but they are believed to be impractical. In addition, NASA is considering all the possibilities of using artificial intelligence in space diagnostic programs and even a trial of robotic surgery.
But they also plan to change the astronaut’s DNA through epigenetic changes that will change the way the body reads the genes without affecting the basic DNA. Changing the chemicals will control the volume of the genes, and their action may be amplified or excluded if necessary if something is wrong.
Dr. Terrier told The Times: “We are seeking solutions. From drug therapy, which will be promising, to extreme things like epigenetic changes to manipulations. ”
What are the long-term consequences of those “security” measures?
While they believe that these approaches can help prevent cancer, and other diseases caused by radiation in theory, there are many questions about the safety of such approaches.
According to Doctor Terrier, four astronauts are likely to be on board a ship that will fly to Mars to find a good balance between easy travel and solvering the problem of loneliness. The four astronauts who have applied for this mission will have to go through the epigenetic changes, and we can only guess where this might lead us.
Volunteering to travel to another planet is very uncertain and the bodies of those people will be subjected to elements that are not able to fully predict. However, the possibility of human genetic alterations does not lead to a new level of complexity. People who volunteer for the trip to Mars are clearly prepared for the risks of space travel, but the effects of human genetic modification may not be limited to those individuals alone.
Except for the question of long-term security, what could happen if any of these four genetically modified astronauts would like to have children? How many generations will be affected by their modified DNA? Assuming that these four people will surely return to Earth after the mission?
There are more questions than answers when it comes to this approach, and even Dr. Terrier acknowledges that it will have completely ethical consequences.
The first question that arises is how the astronauts who were on the Moon, will return alive, and will experience a deep old age, despite great radiation. And the second is how scientists will protect astronauts by modifying DNA when they do not know how to treat cancer patients?