When humans travel beyond the orbit of Earth, they will be exposed to higher levels of ionizing radiation and in the case of Mars also for much longer durations than a typical stay on the International Space Station.
While the classic idea is to protect the astronauts with shielding mass (e.g. water, plastics or Carbon) or a magnetic shield, these increase the bulk and weight of a spacecraft. Although these classic approaches would indeed result in a large reduction of astronaut radiation exposure, there are also other promising approaches that hardly add any weight to the mission system mass.
In this TED talk, Sarah Baatout, a Belgian researcher which we had the pleasure of meeting, shows us how we could adapt our biology to increase resistance to space radiation.
But can we actually design therapies to increase human tolerance against radiation? Researchers are beginning to discover that this indeed seems to be the case.
The research is not only applicable to Deep Space Travel but also diversifies the strategies not only to protect but even remediate radiation damage to radiation workers and cancer patients on Earth.
A very interesting in-depth article, giving an overview of innovative research in the radiobiology field,
can be found here: Franco Cortese, et al., “Vive la radiorésistance!: converging research in radiobiology and biogerontology to enhance human radioresistance for deep space exploration and colonization“, Oncotarget Advance Publications, 2018, www.impactjournals.com/oncotarget/, source Pdf.: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/323052913_Vive_la_radioresistance_Converging_research_in_radiobiology_and_biogerontology_to_enhance_human_radioresistance_for_deep_space_exploration_and_colonization, last visited March 15, 2019.
Written by Joris Luypaert, ONESTAGETOSPACE.COM