Want to go to Mars? Know the solar flare danger that can even kill you

The idea of a colony on Mars is fascinating, but there is a possibility that humans would not even make it to the red planet. The reason? Solar flares and CME. Check details.

| Updated on: Aug 24 2023, 13:19 IST
Solar flare risk rises! Earth may get blackouts, GPS problems and Auroras
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1/6 According to Dr. Tamitha Skov, a Space Weather physicist and popularly known as 'Space weather woman', the presence of sunspots increases the possibility of solar falers as it increases solar activity. (NASA)
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2/6 She stated in a post that, “Our Sun continues to impress with no less than eight active regions in Earth-view. Several of these are M-flare players and NOAA/SWPC is even giving us a small chance for X-class flares.” (SDO/NASA)
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3/6 Solar Flares are ranked by alphabets depending on their intensity with ‘A’ being the smallest in intensity and ‘X’ being the most dangerous flare.  (Pixabay)
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4/6 Solar Flares can cause power blackouts, GPS crashes, radio blackouts and more. When a solar flare hits the Earth, the radio communications and the power grid is affected when it hits the Earth’s magnetic field. It can cause power and radio blackouts for several hours or even days. However, electricity grid problems occur only if the solar flare is extremely large. (NASA/SDO)
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5/6 The eight sunspots that have come into the Earth’s view have been named as solar region 3030, 3031, 3032, 3033, 3034, 3035, 3037 and 3038, with region 3030 and 3032 witnessing major solar activity last week. As a result, many M-rated solar flares have been predicted to occur this week, with even a small chance of an X-rated solar flare to erupt. (Pixabay)
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6/6 X-rated solar flares are almost 10 times more dangerous than M-rated solar flares. On the bright side, the solar flares always bring a beautiful night-sky phenomenon known as Auroras or Northern Lights, which are stunning to witness. They light up the sky with colourful displays and are easily visible through the naked eye. (REUTERS)
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A NASA scientist reveals that a trip to Mars can have deadly consequences, due to the solar flares and CMEs that are frequently shot off by the Sun. (Pixabay)

After yesterday's success of the Chandrayaan-3 mission, the excitement in the astronomy community is at an all-time high. Many are already wondering about other new achievements India and the world can unlock. And among the huge bucket list of ideas about space exploration, one thing has always remained on top - a manned mission to Mars could pave the way for building a colony on the red planet. However, a NASA scientist has warned us that this dream may just not be possible in the near future with the current technology that we have. Why? It's because the radiation from solar flares and coronal mass ejections (CME) will kill us long before we ever reach Mars.

NASA scientist Dr. Michelle Thaller spoke with The US Sun and explained that the technology we have at the moment is simply not enough to protect the astronauts that will be traveling to Mars. The biggest challenge is space radiation. On Earth, we are protected by it due to the ozone layer and the upper atmosphere which absorbs all the radiation hits to ensure the Earth does not have to be exposed to them.

But in the space, there is nothing to protect humans. In a journey that can be as long as 9 months, avoiding radiation coming from solar flares and CMEs would be extremely difficult.

Solar flares can kill astronauts on the way to Mars

While normal radiation exists in space anyway, the intensity of this radiation increases multifold when a solar flare erupts on the Sun, or a CME sweeps over an area in space. Recently, some scientists found a correlation between the clouds of Neptune dying with increased solar activity on the Sun. And if the Sun can affect Neptune, the farthest planet in the solar system, it can definitely affect spacecraft between Earth and Mars.

This radiation is so potent that it can cause radiation poisoning, various types of cancer, degenerative and genetic disorders, and even death.

And this could be a major limiter in Earthlings going to Mars by 2050, a deadline, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk has given himself to transport 1 million people to Mars.NASA astronaut Stan Love told The US Sun that there is simply no chance of creating a human colony by that time.

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First Published Date: 24 Aug, 13:10 IST
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