Space travel always represents a huge risk – on Earth, humans are protected by our own magnetosphere, but outside it we have to deal differently. Participants in future space missions will have to deal with dangerous cosmic radiation, and this is not easy.

There is more and more talk about plans for long-term missions, including trips to Mars. However, the crews of such missions face a danger that cannot be underestimated: cosmic radiation. Let's assume that a manned mission to Mars would take about 6 months, which is a typical rough estimate for planned missions to Mars. For cosmic rays, we can use the typical value reported by space agencies, which is about 0.3-0.6 Sievert (Sv) per year in space, but this value can vary depending on current solar activity.

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For the purposes of this example, let us use a value of 0.5 Sv per year as the average level of cosmic radiation. Therefore, for a six-month (or half-year) mission, the radiation dose would be a staggering 0.25 Sv – assuming there is absolutely nothing to protect space travelers. To illustrate the enormous challenge we face, let us try to estimate by what percentage the radiation dose would need to be reduced during a mission to Mars.

First, we must tell ourselves what is the safe dose of radiation for humans. The standard maximum radiation dose for unskilled workers is 1 mSv (!) per year, while for workers more exposed to radiation (such as some workers at nuclear power plants) it can be up to 20 mSv per year.

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