Medical issues for a human mission to Mars and Martian surface expeditions

Jones, Jeffrey A.; Barratt, Michael; Effenhauser, Rainer; Cockell, Charles S. and Lee, Pascal (2004). Medical issues for a human mission to Mars and Martian surface expeditions. Journal of the British Interplanetary Society, 57(3-4) pp. 144–160.



The medical issues for an exploratory class mission to Mars are myriad and challenging. They include hazards from the space environment, such as space vacuum and radiation; hazards on the planetary surface such as micrometeoroids and Martian dust, and constitutional medical hazards, like appendicitis and tooth abscess. They include hazards in the transit vehicle like foreign bodies and toxic atmospheres, and hazards in the habitat like decompression and combustion events. They also include human physiological adaptation to variable conditions of reduced gravity and prolonged isolation and confinement. The health maintenance program for a Mars mission will employ strategies of disease prevention, early detection, and contingency management, to mitigate the risks of spaceflight and exploration. Countermeasures for altered gravity conditions will allow crewmembers to maintain high levels of performance and nominal physiologic functioning. Despite all of these issues, given sufficient redundancy in on-board life support systems, there are no medical show-stoppers for the first human exploratory class missions.

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