Radiation Threatens Deep-Space Sex: NASA

Protons could kill embryo's eggs, cut sperm count
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted Feb 14, 2011 6:31 AM CST
Updated Feb 14, 2011 7:47 AM CST
The blue star near the center of this image provided by NASA Monday Jan. 24, 2011 is Zeta Ophiuchi.   (AP Photo/NASA)

(Newser) – Propagating the human race far away from home could be tough: Powerful radiation in space would likely sterilize female embryos conceived there, NASA finds, and it could shrink sperm counts, too. At the moment, we don’t have the technology required to create spacecraft shielding to block the radiation, the Telegraph reports. “The present shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy transited to Mars,” notes a scientist.

The DNA in charge of cells’ development is highly vulnerable to the type of radiation found in space. Even in the second and third trimester of pregnancy, ionizing radiation could destroy the egg cells of a female fetus. “One would have to be very protective of those cells during gestation, during pregnancy, to make sure that the female didn't become sterile so they could continue the colony,” adds the researcher. (Click for more issues with deep-space sex.)

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