Medical Risks on a Mission to Mars medGadget

Humans are going to Mars, and they are going to need some medical support in order to survive the trip, at least according to a panel held last week at a conference in Washington DC. The discussion, at the Humans to Mars Summit held last week at George Washington University, covered some of the biomedical risks of a potential human trip to Mars and the countermeasures required to arrive healthy (and maybe return to Earth, but not all trips include that option). Medical Risks on a Mission to MarsPanel chair Dr. Kris Lehnhardt, Emergency Medicine faculty at George Washington University Hospital, went over some general known biomedical risks of spaceflight and how a long duration flight would exacerbate or modify those risks. Some of the risks included: space motion sickness, vibration effects, auditory injury from the constant noise astronauts are exposed to during flight operations, psychosocial risk factors from team dynamics and isolation, and possibly the most important factor, making sure the toilet technology works during the entire proposed mission. As Dr. Lehnhardt relayed, a crewmember told him once, “When a toilet is broken on the spacecraft, nothing else matters”