It looks like insomnia isn’t just a problem for astronauts in space. According to a new research, space radiation may speed up the development of Alzheimer’s disease. Scientists have discovered that a specific kind of space radiation known as high-mass, high-charged (or HZE) particles poses a threat to astronauts. These cosmic radiations, most likely the result of exploding stars, move in space at very high speeds and can punch through solid objects such as a spacecraft.
Earth’s magnetic field generally protects us from these kinds of radiations, but, in deep space, astronauts aren’t so lucky. The NASA Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory in New York generated the iron HZE particles using particle accelerators. The scientists tested the particles on mice and gave them a dose that is comparable to what astronauts might receive during a mission, say for example, to Mars.
In a series of tests conducted, the mice were placed in specific areas with unpleasant electric shocks to their feet. Scientists discovered that the dosed mice were far more likely to fail. Also, the dosed mice showed high levels of beta amyloid, a protein known to be associated with Alzheimer’s disease, as well as inflamed blood vessels. Earlier we reported that NASA is considering a plan to drag an asteroid into the moon’s orbit. Astronauts who are planning to join the mission might want to think about the risks involved first.