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The water on Mars


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Radiation on Mars:

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Over the course of about 18 months, the Mars Odyssey probe detected ongoing radiation levels which are 2.5 times higher than what astronauts experience on the International Space Station – 22 millirads per day, which works out to 8000 millirads (8 rads) per year.

For comparison, human beings in developed nations are exposed to (on average) 0.62 rads per year. And while studies have shown that the human body can withstand a dose of up to 200 rads without permanent damage, a 1-sievert (100 rads) dose of radiation increases a person's lifetime cancer risk by 4 percent, according to health physicist and radiation safety expert Peter Caracappa of the Renssealaer Polytechnic Institute.

Prolonged exposure to the kinds of levels detected on Mars could lead to all kinds of health problems – like acute radiation sickness, increased risk of cancer, genetic damage, and even death.

 

Clearly, the high level of radiation on Mars will present many problems for future manned missions, but radiation-contaminated water is not one of them.

The type of radiation present on Mars is not due to any radioactive materials present on the Red Planet, but is due to regular exposure to cosmic rays and solar wind, plus it receives occasional lethal blasts that occur with strong solar flares.

Contamination versus Exposure:

However, a body of water exposed to radiation is not necessarily contaminated with radioactive material.

For water to be contaminated, radioactive material must be present; either floating on or dissolved in the water. Since cosmic and solar radiation is delivered in the form of rays, it simply passes through the water and does not contaminate it or make the water radioactive.

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