NASA Wants To Alter DNA Of Astronauts Headed To Mars In The 2030s, Know Why

News World India | 1
| October 10 , 2017 , 18:02 IST

Now that man has successfully reached the moon, established an International Space Station and sent nearly 3,700 satellites into Space, the next frontier to be explored is by landing man on Mars, a project which may have further complications than what we may have imagined.

Apart from the challenges in technology and the concerns on how humans would psychologically adapt to living away from earth for extended periods of time, astronauts would likely be bombarded with particle radiation in Space, which the Earth's magnetic field protects us from.

NASA is reportedly considering various measures to protect the astronauts journeying to Mars in the 2030s, including possibly altering the DNA of the astronauts to make them more resilient to cancerous space radiation.

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In space, there is particle radiation with enough energy to collide with the nuclei of the atoms making up shielding and human tissue, which would then allow new particles and other radiation to enter the human DNA, resulting in diseases like cancer and dementia. Such radiation is blocked by the Earth's magnetic field, but as the astronauts would spend extended periods of time far away from the Earth, the possible damage cannot yet be gauged.  

While other methods of protection such as armoured suits, shielded plating and electromagnetic force fields are being considered, they are unlikely to be useful practically.

NASA is considering options of altering the DNA of astronauts that would be going to Mars in 2030s. By means of epigenetic modifications, NASA scientists are looking for a way to alter the way genes are read by the body without changing the actual DNA code of the individual.

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Using epigenetic modifications, NASA scientists would be able to enhance the genetic instructions on one gene or mute another. By manipulating the genes, the scientists can prevent radiation-related illnesses from developing as well as boost the body's defences against radiation.

Another technique in the development phase is the use of NMN which has shown to rejuvenate elderly mice in laboratory tests.

Apart from preparing the astronauts, NASA is also considering to send along with the astronauts an artificial intelligence programme that would be able to diagnose diseases and perform robotic surgery in space itself.