Thursday, October 29, 2009

NASA to start irradiating monkeys

Tests aim to see how radioactive environment of space impacts humans

Image: Squirrel monkey

By Irene Klotz

NASA is stepping up its space
radiation studies with a round of experiments that for the first time in decades will use monkeys as subjects.

The point of the experiments is to understand how the harsh radioactive environment of space affects human bodies and behavior and what countermeasures can be developed to make long-duration spaceflight safe for travelers beyond Earth's protective magnetic shield.

For the new study, 18 to 28 squirrel monkeys will be exposed to a low dose of the type of radiation that astronauts traveling to Mars can expect to encounter...