Once astronauts leave Earth’s protective atmosphere, they will be exposed to a lot of cosmic radiation,media CNET reported. Scientists have said that cosmic radiation can cut through spaceships like a hot knife through butter. While many have come up with theories of new ways to protect astronauts from radiation during long-term missions to Mars, new answers may emerge in the form of yeast.
This summer, a team of scientists from three universities discovered 10 yeast genes that could survive radiation exposure, equivalent to what humans have achieved a year after Mars, after “hitting” 6,000 yeasts with simulated cosmic radiation. That’s about 10,000 times the radiation we normally receive on Earth.
“Ten or 15 years ago, all our information about radiation damage was based on acute high-dose radiation from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and Chernobyl, which is not a good model for long-term exposure,” researcher Corey Nislow said in a statement. These efforts mark the first time that scientists have systematically studied the effects of long-term radiation — important for space biology and for sending people to the moon, Mars and beyond. “
Next year, Nislow will try to repeat the experiments on another test bed. It also attempted to send yeast and algae samples to the moon through NASA’s Artemis 1 mission. These samples will be exposed to cosmic radiation for 48 days. When they return, the researchers compare the samples with 2019 results.
Understanding how yeast reacts in microgravity could also provide scientists with results that could eventually be used in human patients, Nislow said in a press release.