A new study shows Apollo astronauts — who were subjected to the radiation of deep space — die of cardiovascular diseases four or five times more often then the rest of the astronaut corps. The study found 43 percent of Apollo astronauts who’ve died, died of cardiovascular problems. In total, 24 astronauts have left the protection of Earth's magnetic field to go to the moon. Losing this shield, combined with the effects of weightlessness on the vascular system, appears to have done lasting damage.
Class discussion: How does the magnetic field protect life on Earth from excess radiation? What creates Earth’s magnetic field? How could large solar flares threaten astronauts outside the Earth’s protective magnetosphere? Are commercial and military pilots exposed to more radiation than earthbound workers? Are human beings just too fragile for deep space exploration? Should we rely on unmanned vehicles to explore the solar system and beyond? Could we ever build viable space colonies on the moon, Mars or elsewhere?
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