NASA has a mystery to solve: Can people go to Mars, or not? “It’s a question of radiation,” says Frank Cucinotta of NASA’s Space Radiation Health Project at the Johnson Space Center. “We know how much radiation is out there, waiting for us between Earth and Mars, but we’re not sure how the human body is going to react to it.” NASA astronauts have been in space, off and on, for 45 years. Except for a few quick trips to the moon, though, they’ve never spent much time far from Earth. Deep space is filled with protons from solar flares, gamma rays from newborn black holes, and cosmic rays from exploding stars. A long voyage to Mars, with no big planet nearby to block or deflect that radiation, is going to be a new adventure.