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Co-evolution of Life Ever since man has started studying the sky, people have always tried to find another home in space, looking for planets that might allow life to develop, while also wondering whether or not life exists outside Earth. While modern technology cant answer the big question, we can get an idea of how life in space would look like, something that might become possible in the next few years. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 3

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Surviving the Void A JOURNEY THROUGH THE STARS Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 1 Co-evolution of Life LIFE IN SPACE Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 2 Co-evolution of Life Ever since man has started studying the sky, people have always tried to find another home in space, looking for planets that might allow life to develop, while also wondering whether or not life exists outside Earth. While modern technology cant answer the big question, we can get an idea of how life in space would look like, something that might become possible in the next few years. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 3 4 Table of Contents Health risks of life in space T his chapters focuses on issues that concern the health of the crew of a manned space mission or, generally speaking, any risks of life in space. Subjects include nutrition, body health, mental disorders and medical care. Life-favorable environments The subject of this chapter is the search for new systems that might allow life development and studying what makes such a system habitable. Life support environments This part of the project is about the development (design, construction and maintenance) of life support environments at any scale, placed in a spacecraft or in a solar system body. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 5 Sending Messages in Space One way of searching for extraterrestrial life is sending messages in space and waiting for an answer. While this method could take centuries before giving back any results, many scientists consider it worth a try. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 6 Table of Contents Living in the Void Health risks One of the most important aspects of establishing an out-of-Earth camp, be it a Space Station or some sort of settlement on an asteroid, is protecting ourselves from all the bad stuff that happens with our body when were not on Earth. There are several problems with spending a lot of time in the outer space. Solar radiation, lack of gravity, your legs shrinking and many more can cause serious problems to the astronauts. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 7 Background Cosmic Rays and Solar Radiation One of the biggest problems with extraterrestrial settlements is protecting yourself from the deadly cosmic rays. While on Earth, the magnetic field stops this radiation from reaching you. Once you leave the magnetic field, theres nothing left to protect you. The cosmic rays, which are 90% protons (hydrogen nuclei),8-9% helium and 1% other nuclei, hit any kind of shielding, sometimes ripping the bonds between the shieldings, creating microscopic shrapnel that is just as dangerous as the radiation. Because of this, the best materials for shielding are the lightest ones. Shielding made out of lead would be worse than no shielding. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 8 9 The Earths magnetic field protecting us from a coronal mass ejection. (image: NASA) [1] Taking all this into consideration, the best material would be the lightest one, hydrogen, but you cant really make spaceship walls out of hydrogen, can you? Right now, scientists are experimenting with graphite nanofiber enriched with trapped hydrogen, The big advantage this technology has is the lightness of the nanofiber, making it a lot easier to transport than other materials, given the $10.000/kg launch price. Other ways of reducing the radiation levels are water or using some kind of polyethylene. The downside is that the amount of water needed would be huge, making the ship a lot heavier. One idea would be creating a heavily shielded room where the entire crew could retreat in case of tremendous amounts of cosmic radiation coming in their direction. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 10 Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 11 [2] Effects of exposure to radiation The reason we fear cosmic rays so much is the effect they have on our bodies. Studies have shown that exposure can cause cancer or increase the risk of developing some sort of cancer later in life, heart problems and, one of the biggest concerns at this moment, neurological risks (problems with the central nervous system). Studies have shown that exposure can harm the brain, accelerating the onset of Alzheimers disease and killing up to 5% of the cells/mission, while, for each year astronauts spend in space, one third of their DNA is hit directly by heavy ions. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 12 Unfortunately, with todays technology and weight limits imposed by the economy, there is no safe way of preventing exposure to radiation. While there are certain drugs that boost the bodys regeneration power and all sorts of materials that offer some degree of protection, the best thing to do is to choose astronauts with genetic resistance to radiation and no smoking history. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 13 Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 14 Solar Radiation [3] Dealing With the Lack of Gravity Weightlessness is probably the first thing any astronaut notices when they leave Earth. While many astronauts like the freedom weightlessness offers, there are a lot of downsides to it. Many changes take place in the human body in the absence of gravity. Luckily, man can adapt to almost any conditions. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 15 Body Changes In the absence of gravity, signals from the vestibulary system and the pressure receptors are tremendously misleading. The human body adapts to this, the eyes becoming the main source of information, making down where your feet are pointing. While this happens, the human body suffers what scientists call Space Adaptation Syndrome which one astronaut wryly described as "a fancy term for throwing up". Most astronauts experience this, the main symptoms being nausea, vomiting, headaches and inability to concentrate. While those go away after a few days, the astronauts have to go through another adaptation period when they return home. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 16 There are a number of drugs that ameliorate the symptoms of space adaptation syndrome. However, they are not always used since it is considered better to let the astronauts adapt to space conditions. They are used as a backup measure when performing extra- vehicular activities, since vomiting in the spacesuit could be fatal. This is why EVAs are not performed during the accommodation days. All astronauts go through High-G training while on Earth, a special program designed for people who are subject to high levels of acceleration. It is designed to prevent a g-induced Loss of Consciousness, which happens when g-forces move the blood away from the brain to the extent that consciousness is lost. In a spaceship, this could be fatal. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 17 While on Earth, all the body fluids are attracted by gravity and pulled to the ground, where our feet are, creating different pressures in our body. Pumping blood against the gravity requires strong heart muscles. However, with the lack of gravity goes away the need of strong muscles, leading to a weak heart. Also, the liquids are no longer pulled towards the ground, as there is no ground, causing the legs to shrink. Some problems that are considered more serious include the drop of the red blood cell count by 20%, causing anemia when returning on Earth. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 18 Bones and muscle are what holds are body against the gravity. With no gravity, bone and muscle lose their function and some peculiar things start happening. First, you get taller. Without the compressive force caused by gravity, the spinal column expands. Unfortunately, this can also cause backaches. The second thing that happens is that you start losing bone mass, up to 1% of your bones going away each month. In microgravity, the body has no need to preserve its Earth structure, absorbing bone tissue but not replacing it. This can cause high calcium levels in other parts of the body, leading to kidney stones. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 19 While in space, you also suffer from muscle atrophy. While they cant reverse the process, 2-3 hours of running on the treadmill every day in microgravity or some kind of artificial gravity and special compression suits that force the body fluid into the legs can help slow down the changes that occur in the body. Also, almost every astronaut suffers from eye problems caused by intracranial pressure. The last way space affects astronauts is by attacking their minds. Sooner or later, astronauts go through a period of high stress. Data collected from the Russian MIR station shows that astronauts display signs of fatigue and low motivation. This condition was called Crew Cabin Fever. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 20 Artificial Gravity Most of the problems presented before can be solved by implementing artificial gravity in the settlement/spaceship. The artificial gravity could be created by one of the following means: Linear acceleration even at a low level, can provide sufficient g- force to provide useful benefits. Any spacecraft could, in theory, continuously accelerate in a straight line, forcing objects inside the spacecraft in the opposite direction of the direction of acceleration. Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 21 Surviving the Void - a Journey Through the Stars 22 Another way of creating artificial (or rather natural, given the case) gravity is by introducing a very dense object in the spaceship. However, its mass would have to be enormous. An asteroid could work, but the gravitational pull would be so weak it would be impractical. A similar effect to gravity has been creating through diamagnetism. A system using very strong magnets could even create a field stronger than 1g. However, the mass of the magnets would b