The first Mars colonists can become genetically modified people

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2018-02-05 15:00:03

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The first Mars colonists can become genetically modified people

For the success of a project of colonization of Mars may require genetically altered humans, able to withstand exposure to space radiation. And although before the first and before the second is still far, research is carried out in both directions, writes the British edition of Wired.

Elon Musk dreams of a populated Mars. But before his dreams can become reality and the red planet will be the first city with a million people, humanity will need the first group of colonial pioneers. And these pioneers must have one very important genetic trait — a resistance to radiation. We still know little about the features of the human body and animals to resist radiation, but nevertheless we know that it exists. Currently, scientists are conducting research aimed at understanding how much radiation can withstand the body of cancer patients. But once this feature of the organism can be an important factor in the selection of candidates for missions to other planets.

Norman Kleiman of Columbia University that studies the effects of radiation on the human body, believes that in the future science will be able to offer the editing of the genome of future astronauts, so they can better endure the harsh conditions of the flight, and not only the effects of radiation.

"using the technology of gene editing, people will be able to create a new type, a new type of biological protection for astronauts involved in long-term missions, which will operate along with the physical, electrical and pharmacological methods of protection," says Professor Christopher Mason College Cornell medical.

One of the research areas could increase the level of melanin in the body. These high molecular weight pigments, for example, protect a person from exposure to ultraviolet radiation. This method will provide complete protection from cosmic radiation. Another direction can be research aimed at improving the protection of eyes.

The Lens of your eye is one of the most sensitive parts of the body exposed to radiation. The victims of atomic bombs or nuclear power plant accidents often develop so-called radiation cataract. What causes it is not clear, but scientists suggest that the consequences of DNA damage. Last year, Kleiman with colleagues from Netherlands cancer Institute have discovered a biological "radioprotectant" — a special class of molecules, which even in small doses is much more effective than anything else used until then, to cope with radiation. However, notes Kleiman, his work is in its infancy and requires a number of other studies that will allow us to better understand why some people are more susceptible to radiation than others.

If the Mars people will go with increased resistance to radiation, they will be in such harsh conditions that over time, the ability to develop and grow, says Mason. In addition, due to the low gravity, their bones can become less dense, and they will be able to adapt to other differences in the soil and the atmosphere of the planets. However, how long will it take these changes for several years, decades, centuries — to say it is impossible.

In Addition to medical and technical problems, build a colony on Mars, of course, will face social and political problems. Some fear that there is a possibility that people destroy all traces of the once existed on the planet of life, and this threat is able to cause a new wave of terror. Others say that while there is no space legislation, which would regulate the conduct of private companies and individual States in the exploitation of resources beyond Earth. Despite all this, there are people who consider the colonization of other planets is not just a necessary step for humanity, and vital.

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