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Radiation isn't really as much of a problem as popsci media makes it out to be. Go look at all the plans by The Mars Society, most usually have water storage doubling as a radiation shelter for solar storms and not much else.



NASA’s Mars Odissey MARIE experiment showed daily levels 2.5x above the ISS, with spikes up to 1000x during solar events. Those are all low orbit measurements, but you can imagine it would translate to ground levels quite well.

Most of the colonization sketches from MS all include a multi-purpose underground component. The rationals for not building everything underground are the difficulty of doing it, even on Earth, and our lack of knowledge of Mars underground.

All that is to say that the first few batches of Mars colonist should only expect a one way ticket. We could obviously bring them back to Earth, to die from cancer here, if they wished to, but they might as well get morphine up there and keep on martianing, I know that’s what I would want to do.


Also it's a lot easier to send people there one-way than it is to bring them back, and there'd likely be issues with atrophy if we were able to do so. There's really no reason to design for two-way trips for now, especially considering that Mars One showed there's no lack of volunteers for one-way.



Log scale... You appear to get 6.5x the annual safe limit in 500 days. It would be an unacceptable hazards to be exposed to that much radiation on earth.


Is that the equivalent of 6.5 years of normal aging-related cancer risk (spread over ~1.35 actual years), or does risk scale non-linearly?

If it's a normal +5 bonus years of risk, it seems like something that would be acceptable for such a voyage. But you'd be a bit hard-pressed to find something worth it on Earth, it would have to be something truly spectacular.


Wait, is that all? The safe limit is likely quite conservative, so 5x the annual safe limit in a year doesn't seem like a big deal.


Whether it is a big deal or not, I also misread the graph and it is more like 16x...


How do you calculate 6.5x? It might be my inability to read log graphs but is the DOE limit 20mSv and the 500 day dose 350mSv?


You're right, I was lazy at reading it too, and it acutally is more like 16x.


I find that graph hard to understand. The time component varies between 6 months and goes up to 500 days. Any idea why they didn’t keep them all at 1 year? And shouldn’t the transit to Mars column in the place that the 500 days one occupies? Surely the same dose in 180 days is worse for you than having it spread over 500?


Is there a good reason not to make the base mostly under-ground, if you have the technology to dig it up?


Mostly that digging giant holes in the ground is harder than it looks.


Especially since we don't have any practical experience digging tunnels in mars gravity - or even know exactly how it impacts geology. Would be a shame to lug a bunch of (extremely heavy) equipment out there and have the tunnels turn out unstable.




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