Nasa was told this week to do more to protect astronauts from deadly radiation in space. America’s top science body said spacemen needed greater protection for planned missions to the Moon and Mars.
They were also in peril from violent storms on the sun that sent deadly particles flying through space. Health threats include cancers such as leukaemia, plus heart disease, cataracts and breathing disorders.
Daniel Baker, author of the council’s report, said: “One concern is that astronauts could become ill from space radiation effects and vomit in their space suits, which could be extremely serious.”
The report said a violent solar storm that fortunately occurred between the Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 missions in August 1972 could have killed any astronauts. Dr Baker said: “We know that this storm was large enough that it could have had potentially fatal consequences to astronauts had they been on the moon at that time.”
The report suggests special storm shelters could be built inside spacecraft and on the moon to protect astronauts. It also calls for a colour-coded alert system to be devised to warn quickly of any incoming radiation from solar storms.