Soaking up a Lunar Mission’s Worth of Radiation
Universe Today | 2022 Sep 01
When Artemis 1 finally takes flight, twelve bags of baker’s yeast will go along for the ride. Millions of these cells of Saccharomyces cerevisiae will experience deep space as it grows and reproduces. The yeast is a stand-in for actual people. The idea is to see what threat the radiation environment in deep space poses to living cells. The data from the experiment will point to how genetic engineering might help reduce damage to astronauts.
The project is called Deep Space Radiation Genomics. It’s the brainchild of a team at the University of Colorado’s BioServe Space Technologies Group. Its technical aim is to identify the metabolic and genomic pathways affected by microgravity and space radiation. This is a crucial experiment because there are still a great many unknowns about the effects of lengthy stays in deep space. Data from the mission will help members figure out ways to help astronauts avoid the effects of long-term radiation exposure.
It’s particularly important as NASA and other agencies work toward sending astronauts to the Moon or even Mars. And, the most recent data about humans in deep space is half a century old. “Nothing like this has happened for 50 years,” said Tobias Niederwieser, a research associate at BioServe and an engineer on the team. “The last time humans sent anything biological on a return trip to the moon was during Apollo 17 in 1972.” ...