Distance: Hazard Far From Home

A human journey to Mars, at first glance, offers an inexhaustible amount
of complexities. To bring a mission to the Red Planet from fiction to fact, our Human
Research Program
has
organized some of the hazards astronauts will encounter on a continual basis
into five classifications.

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The third and perhaps most apparent hazard is, quite
simply, the distance.

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Rather than a three-day lunar trip, astronauts would
be leaving our planet for roughly three years. Facing a communication delay of
up to 20 minutes one way and the possibility of equipment failures or a medical
emergency, astronauts must be capable of confronting an array of situations
without support from their fellow team on Earth.

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Once you burn your engines for Mars, there is no
turning back so planning and self-sufficiency are essential keys to a
successful Martian mission. The Human Research Program is studying and
improving food formulation, processing, packaging and preservation systems.

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While International Space Station expeditions serve as
a rough foundation for the expected impact on planning logistics for such a
trip, the data isn’t always comparable, but it is a key to the solution.

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Exploration to the Moon and Mars
will expose astronauts to five known hazards of spaceflight, including distance
from Earth. To learn more, and find out what our Human Research
Program is doing to protect humans in space, check out the “Hazards
of Human Spaceflight
" website. Or,
check out this week’s episode of “Houston We Have a Podcast,” in which host Gary Jordan
further dives into the threat of distance with Erik Antonsen, the
Assistant Director for Human Systems Risk
Management at the Johnson Space Center.

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