Beyond radiation come about from highly charged particles

Beyond the role gravity plays into human health, ionizing space
radiation and extraterrestrial dust exposure are additional hazards that the space
environment presents. The sun serves as the main source for radiation
permeating with its proximity. High levels of radiation pose a risk for anyone
with prolonged exposure. Ionizing space radiation come about from highly
charged particles released from solar emissions and solar particle events.1Emissions
from solar activity along with galactic cosmic rays expel highly energized
particles that exhibits adverse effects on human health upon exposure. The
degree to which biological damage occurs depends on the equivalent dose of the
ionizing radiation which takes into consideration the absorbed dose along with the
biological effectiveness factor. Prolonged exposure to ionizing radiation
damages molecular structures, such as DNA2,
biological processes, and tissues. Such radiation spurs the onset of
carcinogenesis. Cardiovascular health may be compromised in addition as
atherosclerosis, myocardial fibrosis, and cardiac/valve abnormalities as
attributed in prior observations.3

Precedence concerning
extraterrestrial dust exposure was set with the Apollo missions.4
Toxicity of extraterrestrial dust and their effects are highlighted in their
role of reducing gravitational sedimentation; gravity acting to suspend
particles in fluids and solids. With exposure these dusts in reduced gravity,
reduced gravitational sedimentation allows for deposits of these dust particles
to accumulate before penetrating deeper into the lungs over time.5
Lungs do remain well-functioning in such “weightless” environments. Exposure to
extraterrestrial dust compromises one of the few organs not negatively impacted
by space-travel. Though current safeguards are available in limiting dust exposure
for current travelers, they are still considered not enough to protect
individuals from all potential forms. As it becomes an airborne concern as much
of an exposure concern, improvements in developing suits, safety measures, and protocol
are set to limit exposure to extraterrestrial dust as well as space radiation.

Understanding and limiting the adverse,
space-induced effects on human health through countermeasures and protective
protocol should remain an area of high focus. As more attention is put into the
expansion and future of space-travel, preservation of optimal human health remains
critical if we are to bring space-travel closer to the mainstream. Space medical/physiological
research is moving at a promising and momentous rate. This up and coming field
will not only serve their own purposes but also come to the benefit of
traditional medicine/physiology back on Earth. It will be interesting to see
the field continue to grow. I look forward to keeping up with current events!

1 Boerma,
Marjan. An introduction to space radiation and its effects on the
cardiovascular system.,

2 Grimms, “Impact of Microgravity on Bones in Humans”


4 Aubert, “Towards
human exploration of space: the THESEUS Review…”

5 Ibid