An investigation published in Scientific Reports, explains how future Mars explorers could suffer from brain damage and extreme anxiety due to the dangerous effects of cosmic radiation.

A team of researchers, from the Department of Radiation Oncology at the University of California, studied the effects cosmic radiation could have on human brains by testing rodents and their cognitive skills. The investigation suggests dangerous situations for future Mars astronomers. The research team explained that future the cognitive abilities of Mars explorers will be compromised if the radiation issue is not solved by Space manufacturers.

In Mars missions astronauts could face memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision making. Image Credit: Universe Today

“Mars mission will result in an inevitable exposure to cosmic radiation that has been shown to cause cognitive impairments in rodent models, and possibly in astronauts engaged in deep space travel,” read the study published on Monday.

Cognitive effects of space travel

The investigation team, which featured researchers from the Irvine and the department of radiation oncology at the Eastern Virginia Medical School, focused on the cognitive effects of radiation on the brains of mice.

For the study, researchers exposed the animals to a radiation period and then studied them over the course of 12 and 24 weeks, providing the mice with several tests that required the use of their common brain skills.

After analyzing the results, the team concluded that radiation effects on the brain animals compromised their decision-making skills, provided them with anxiety and led to brain damage.

“This is not positive news for astronauts deployed on a two-to-three-year round trip to Mars,” explained Charles Limoli, a professor of radiation oncology at the University of California, Irvine to Fox News.

Limoli told the environment astronauts would be facing in space and the dangerous outcomes it might have on the human body, especially on their nervous system.  The effects can vary depending on the time of exposure, according to Limoli astronauts could face memory deficits, anxiety, depression and impaired decision making.

The outcomes of space radiation have been studied on astronauts located at the International Space Station, who despite being protected by our planet’s magnetosphere, have been exposed to radiation. As Vice reports, studies have been held on Apollo-era astronauts, concluding in cardiovascular problems.

Radiation exposure has a been a long-discussed subject among the space community and especially with large space corporations such as NASA or SpaceX, who have been the top broadcasters on traveling to the red planet.

Last year the space company released a review on the “Martian” movie, which explored the possibilities of radiation exposure on a human lost in the red planet. NASA informed their commitment to the subject and their initial studies on the matter, as they informed about current technologies that could serve as a protection for astronauts as they embark on a space travel adventure.

Source: Nature