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When the Nearest Help is 34 Million Miles Away

13 Jan 2014, 17:56 UTC
When the Nearest Help is 34 Million Miles Away
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A trip to Mars will be the riskiest journey we've ever attempted.

Artist’s concept of Martian farm by Pat Rawlings/NASA.
The dreaded “red-eyed pumpkin head” (the result of bodily fluid shifts), deep space radiation, and a (literally) shrinking heart are just some of the risks humans will face when journeying 34 million miles to Mars. These hazards, and more, are outlined in the Smithsonian Channel’s newest episode of Space Voyages: Surviving the Void, which premieres tonight, Monday, January 13, at 8 p.m. (EST), and will be shown again on Thursday, January 16, at 9 p.m.
Surviving the Void focuses on NASA’s efforts to send humans to Mars—and beyond. “There is a 100 percent certainty that at some future time, this planet will be uninhabitable,” says Roger Launius, a curator with the National Air and Space Museum. “The reality is we can build the technologies that we need to go to other places, but the human body itself is the most fragile of any of these technologies.”
The episode examines just a few hurdles included in a three-year trip to the Red Planet, including food production. Skylab 4 commander Gerald Carr remembers the extensive menu for their more than 80-day mission. ...

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