Reuters - Video

EDITION: U.S. | U.K. | IN

In Depth

A trip to Mars could increase chances of Alzheimer's for astronauts

Thursday, January 03, 2013 - 02:24

Jan. 2 - A new study has found that prolonged exposure to cosmic radiation could increase the risk of developing neuro-degenerative diseases like Alzheimer's. The findings raise questions about the dangers associated with future manned mission to Mars. Sharon Reich has more.

▲ Hide Transcript

View Transcript

These astronauts are shaking out their nerves. After all, spacewalking is dangerous business. One false move could prove fatal. But according to Dr. M. Kerry O'Banion and his research team at the University of Rochester Medical Center, astronauts of the future, those taking long journeys to Mars or the Asteroid Belt, may have have even more to worry about. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. M. KERRY O'BANION, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, SAYING: "In addition to the known risks that are already out in space including potential risks of cancer or other kinds of problems such as cataracts that have already been reported in radiation experiments like ours, there is also the potential that you could exacerbate neuro-degenerative disease. " The researchers exposed lab mice to high levels of cosmic radiation, the same amount an astronaut would be exposed to over the three years it would take to get to Mars. They found that the mice began showing signs of Alzheimer's disease. O'Banion says current spacecraft technology works well to protect against solar radiation, but it isn't designed to shield against increased levels of high mass, high charged, cosmic radiation found outside of Earth's orbit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) DR. M. KERRY O'BANION, UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER MEDICAL CENTER, SAYING: "The galactic cosmic radiation that we studied in our paper is different. It has a very high velocity, high mass charged particles that arise in space apparently through Super Novas and other galactic events. These particles are very challenging to shield against with conventional materials. One needs large thicknesses of water, concrete or lead. my understanding is that currently we don't have the technology to shield effectively in space craft against these events because we can't carry that much material." NASA currently has plans for a manned mission to an asteroid in 2021 and a trip to Mars scheduled for 2035. O'Banion is confident that over the next few years, researchers will develop methods to protect against these radioactive particles. Ensuring that in the future, astronauts can focus on their mission, without having to worry about their exposure to cosmic radiation.

Press CTRL+C (Windows), CMD+C (Mac), or long-press the URL below on your mobile device to copy the code

A trip to Mars could increase chances of Alzheimer's for astronauts

Thursday, January 03, 2013 - 02:24

Editors' Picks »

Business »

Moving Pictures »

Real-life superheroes Real-life superheroes

Tue, 28 Oct, 2014 - (1:44)

Dance of the northern lights Dance of the northern lights

Mon, 20 Oct, 2014 - (1:08)

Images of September Images of September

Thu, 02 Oct, 2014 - (1:00)

Still missing – MH370 Still missing – MH370

Fri, 05 Sep, 2014 - (2:05)

Burning Together Burning Together

Mon, 01 Sep, 2014 - (2:23)

Mending dolls, teddies and hearts Mending dolls, teddies and hearts

Fri, 22 Aug, 2014 - (3:12)

Images of August Images of August

Fri, 29 Aug, 2014 - (1:00)

"Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay "Old timers" sail the Chesapeake Bay

Mon, 11 Aug, 2014 - (2:27)

Burned memories Burned memories

Fri, 08 Aug, 2014 - (3:02)

Images of July Images of July

Fri, 01 Aug, 2014 - (1:20)

Oddly Enough »

Ancient baby mammoth on display in Moscow Ancient baby mammoth on display in Moscow

Wed, 29 Oct, 2014 - (1:14)

Snow leopard arrives at Mexico zoo Snow leopard arrives at Mexico zoo

Tue, 28 Oct, 2014 - (0:59)

Horse rescued from swimming pool Horse rescued from swimming pool

Tue, 28 Oct, 2014 - (0:30)

Surfing in a different sort of costume Surfing in a different sort of costume

Mon, 27 Oct, 2014 - (1:10)

Skateboards get rock star makeovers Skateboards get rock star makeovers

Thu, 23 Oct, 2014 - (1:28)

Giant rubber duck on show in Shanghai Giant rubber duck on show in Shanghai

Thu, 23 Oct, 2014 - (1:06)

Black bear cub goes Sunday shopping Black bear cub goes Sunday shopping

Thu, 23 Oct, 2014 - (0:27)

Christie's opens new Shanghai office Christie's opens new Shanghai office

Wed, 22 Oct, 2014 - (1:13)

Reuters Investigates »

Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead" Re-homing victim: "I could have been dead"

Wed, 19 Feb, 2014 - (8:24)

Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest Cops and loggers in the Amazon rainforest

Fri, 10 Jan, 2014 - (4:01)

"Passed around like a dog" "Passed around like a dog"

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (6:32)

Adopted, then abandoned online Adopted, then abandoned online

Thu, 29 Aug, 2013 - (13:21)

How the DEA keeps its secrets secret How the DEA keeps its secrets secret

Mon, 05 Aug, 2013 - (1:36)

How education lost its role as the great equalizer - Reuters Investigates How education lost its role as the great...

Mon, 17 Dec, 2012 - (7:52)

Jihad Jane: From abused child to American jihadist - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: From abused child to American...

Sun, 09 Dec, 2012 - (10:01)

Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters Investigates Jihad Jane: The order to kill - Reuters...

Mon, 10 Dec, 2012 - (10:39)