Is Your Brain Ready for Mars?

[ ♪INTRO ] It’s almost time to go to Mars! And while many of us are very ready to get
on with humanity’s journey to the red planet, our brains might not be quite as prepared
to make that long trip through space. Interplanetary travel comes with a lot of
challenges for our brains, including microgravity, radiation, and even differences in light. And we’re going to have to learn how to
deal with them if we want our astronauts to get to Mars healthy and happy. Most days, you don’t think about the fact
that our bodies are well adapted for gravity here on Earth. Because of how you cannot escape
the gravity here on Earth. But here at home, your body pumps fluids up
against gravity to stop everything from kind of pooling in your feet or legs. Once you take gravity out of the equation
though, your body has to adjust. When astronauts first reach space, their bodies
are suddenly pushing all this fluid up, but there’s nothing pulling it back down. You can see the effects of this in astronauts
arriving at the ISS — they seem a little puffier in the face. The good news is this problem only lasts a
few days before the body figures out how to handle fluids in the absence of gravity. Except for cerebrospinal fluid, or CSF, which
is a clear fluid that delivers nutrients to the brain and removes waste. But, in space, instead of distributing itself
normally, it seems to pool underneath the cerebellum. Research published in JAMA Neurology looked
at the brain scans of fifteen astronauts before and after spaceflight. Seven of those astronauts had spent 30 days
or more in a space shuttle, and 8 had been on the ISS for over 6 months. They found that this pooling seems to increase
pressure within the brain, which squeezes and misshapes both the brain and the eyeballs. Scientists are calling this condition Spaceflight
Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome, or SANS for short. We’re still in the early days of understanding
exactly how these changes are going to affect astronauts on interplanetary journeys. But researchers have noted that that extra
pressure on the optic nerve and eyes can cause trouble with near-vision. SANS also seems to affect the connections
between different brain areas, and that’s been associated with difficulties in maintaining
balance after landing. Oddly, those connective changes were actually
more severe in the brains of astronauts who’d been in microgravity for a shorter amount
of time. It seems like, with longer exposure to microgravity, things start to go back to
normal. That offers a bit of hope that the brain may
be able to self-correct given enough time. So maybe SANS is just a temporary symptom
of our brains getting used to new gravity conditions. But we’ll need to get to the
bottom of that before we put humans in interstellar space — or Martian gravity — for the long
term. Another thing we typically take for granted
here on Earth is that most radiation from deep space glances off Earth’s magnetic
field and leaves us alone. Even out on the ISS, astronauts are mostly
protected by this shield. But once we start breaking out of that protective
zone to journey to Mars, radiation is no joke. Deep-space radiation is made of atoms that
lose their electrons as they fly through space at nearly the speed of light. And it does not give a good gosh darn — it’ll
tear through your body like tiny bullets. That’s bad news for the tissue in your brain.
That’s bad news for the tissue in your brain. Those microscopic tears lead to dense clumps
of proteins called plaques, which are often seen in dementia, and they keep neurons from
working together as effectively It’s also bad news for your body, generally
speaking. It can cut through DNA if that DNA were repairs in a wrong way, that can lead
to cancer. Even so, as wild as it sounds, a little bit
of radiation is an acceptable risk. Right now, NASA sets acceptable limits for
radiation based on age, since the older you are, the smaller the chance that you’ll
live long enough to get cancer from previous radiation exposure. But, since we’re thinking about colonizing
Mars, scientists are now looking into how deep-space radiation could affect us in the
shorter term, over the months or years it would take to get to and from Mars. And so far, it looks pretty gnarly. Recent research on mice suggests that chronic,
low-dose-rate neutron radiation, like the kind people would encounter on a journey to
Mars, actually slows down signals between neurons. The mice in this study developed problems
with learning and memory, and showed signs of distress. If the same is true for humans, this suggests
that radiation would be super dangerous for astronauts, who’d be in pretty bad neurological
shape by the time they got to Mars. Shielding against deep-space radiation is
tricky, though. Research is going to have to focus on developing super-effective shielding
if we want our astronauts to be functional once they reach Mars. Right now, NASA is exploring shields with
high amounts of hydrogen or boron, which are particularly effective at blocking radioactive
particles. And if engineers can design a system that
generates enough power, we might one day be able to create magnetic force-fields around
spaceships that deflect radiation, just like the Earth’s magnetic field. Right now though, we’re still looking for
the right solution. One of the most relatable problems astronauts
deal with is trouble sleeping. And while they certainly do enough work to
warrant a good long rest, astronauts actually don’t get as much sleep as they should. They sleep six hours on average, even with
eight-point-five hours a day set aside for it. There are a few reasons for this, but the
biggest issue, especially when it comes time to go interplanetary, will be light exposure. The astronauts that go to Mars won’t have
sunrises and sunsets on their journey — and that’s a problem when it comes to their
circadian rhythm, the internal processes that tell us when to wake up and go to sleep. On Earth, our bodies respond to different
frequencies of light over the course of around 24 hours. In particular, blue light, which is strong
in the morning, suppresses the sleep hormone melatonin — and that makes us more alert. Without that 24 hour cycle of sunrises and
sunsets, astronauts’ sleep cycles go haywire, and their quality of sleep takes a hit. This can cause a range of symptoms, including
stress, trouble working, and even hallucinations. To combat this, astronauts on the ISS just
installed new LED lights that simulate different times of day. And when we blast out of Earth’s orbit,
a system like this is going to be vital to keeping our astronauts healthy and rested. Minimizing risks to astronauts’ well-being
while traveling through space is a huge part of our prep for a Mars mission. And though these things are problems, identifying
them now means we’re in a great position to tackle them early and get ourselves truly
ready to become an interplanetary species. Thanks for watching this episode of SciShow
Psych! Before you go, I want to tell you about October’s SciShow pin of the month. Every month, we here at SciShow release a
new, space-themed pin, and it’s your last chance to order your October pin! This one is of Sputnik, humanity’s first
artificial satellite, and you can only get it this month. Check it out at or in the description
below. [♪OUTRO]

100 thoughts on “Is Your Brain Ready for Mars?

  1. “Most days you don’t think about the fact that our bodies are well adapted to gravity here on earth”
    As a weird person I disagree

  2. Stop it with the human Mars travel propaganda, Hank. It's embarrassing. All it achieves is feeding people's delusional fantasies of running away from humanity's problems instead of learning to live together.

  3. I’ve always wondered if the blue light phenomenon on the human circadian rhythm affects colourblind people as well? Does your eye still detect blue light even if it can’t translate it into the colour blue for your brain, or are those two processes of detection and translation basically the same thing?

  4. Given the childish nature of the comments,I have to wonder why some people even bother watching educational videos. You're all a bunch of idiots, and would probably be more comfortable watching someone jingling car keys.

  5. Shielding with high hydrogen content, like water for example? I wonder if storing the water for the mission in tanks around the living quarters would provide any decent shielding. You have to carry it all the way there any way, so it wouldn't be adding that much "extra" weight.

  6. Meh…..a submariner is already prepared to travel to Mars. Matter of fact, they should let submariners go first, less training and adapting needed.



  8. Once we get there we are going to know how exotic pets feel in a house. There are people who say "how do they survive in the wild if they need so much care?" Send those guys to mars so that they understand

  9. "Sans also seems to affect the connections between different brain areas"
    So that's why Megalovania always gets stuck in our brains–

  10. I feel like the shielding problem might be best solved by assembling long-distance spacecraft in orbit or on the moon, so you can get away with having quite heavy vehicles. Assuming, of course, that the magnetic field idea is impractical.

  11. how about water ? a space craft with 1-3 layers of water on the inside of a wall. like a 1-4 foot water shield. would that work ? maybe but the speed of light is fast. it can hit the water and not slow down at all.
    we need to do alot of testing. that means billions of dollars. who will pay ? no one. thats why we are sooooooo behind.

  12. People watch this and want to make jokes, a few others want to talk about mental health. I'm the weirdo that starts wondering if creating a magnetic field around a spacecraft would increase pressure from the solar wind and knock the spacecraft off course.

  13. Aren't astronaughts experiencing zero g because they are in orbit rather than space? Earth's gravity well is pretty large.

  14. What about people with delayed sleep phase disorder? They do not react to light the same way, and usualy have problems with the standard day/night cycles on earth.
    Could these atypical sleep cycles be beneficial in interplanetary voyages?

  15. Is the heart the only pump in the body. You take about how fresh fluids is brought into the brain, so are their smaller pumps though out the boys or dose the heart handle all fluids?

  16. I feel like if we used the magnetic field around the ship like how earth has it would act as an emp to the ship and cause unlimited technical issues on the flight but that's for sure the best way to shield

  17. A thick sheet of steel will block the radiation, its just too heavy to make a ship out of. We need that moon ship manufacturing base.

  18. Most people in here never heard or care about a stupid character named SANS from some kind of dumb game. Stop commenting about it. I'm looking for intelligent comments to scroll through, but this SANS reference pisses me off.

  19. if a human dies on mars what will happen on the sterile enviroment and on the decaing body? whe must recover the dead body? and how?

  20. Would it be a good idea to send a few mice to Mars first, to see if we can successfully send a liven thing to mars Try out live support and every thing it needs to get through the trip alive and well. send a breeding pair so we can see the effects on birth at the same time. If we cant do it with mice, we are not ready for humans..

  21. We can't go anywhere until the lies from NASA end. We can't put people into space without the knowledge of what's really out there. Are you aware they use encryption on the spacecraft outboard science and imagery, WHY! it's so NASA has complete control on the Narrative? Why does it take days, months, years to release images we should have access to upon arrival at Earth. If you were to check the image history on the images released to the public almost all Mars images show hours to days of editing before release to the public what are they editing? We are being lied to by NASA/JPL, all you need to do is Google search "Mars image anomalies" (artifacts found by citizen researchers) there you'll find hundreds if not thousands of images showing structures, statues and creatures on Mars, it is statistically "IMPOSSIBLE" for them all to be nothing more than shadows, unusual geology or pareidolia as NASA claims (Google structures seen on the Moon, for the same ) and when viewing these images remember, it only takes one to be true for evidence of a civilization that was once on Mars. Here are a couple of examples: Remember it just takes one: Just takes One:

  22. Greetings everyone, good video.

    Planetary surface colonies became obsolete the instant Gerard O'Neill showed us that colonization works vastly better on a rotating habitat. Then everybody became fixated on Mars, instead of the best solution for space colonization, Spinhabs (rotating habitats). Because of this invention, nobody needs to colonize any planets, or terraform them.

    Here's the case for Spinhab (rotating habitat) space colonization (from Gerard O'Neill and company back in 1975). I’m mentioning this because it's a much better idea than colonizing the surface of any planet in the galaxy (including Mars). And it looks like a lot of people have never heard of it. By the way, this is also the long-term vision of Elon Musk’s competitor Jeff Bezos, in his “Blue Origin” company.

    Why are Spinhabs (rotating-habitats) much better than surface colonies?

    a. Rotating habitats exist mostly out of planetary gravity wells. So, they have cheap transportation.

    b. You can build starter habitats in the Earth/Moon orbital zone, because that’s where all the space infrastructure will be built (not across the solar system).

    c. You can move them. With good motors and power sources, you can take them to the stars.

    d. You can set the spin gravity to anything within reason (like earth surface standard 1g).

    e. Solar power in space acts like nuclear power generator (as opposed to sticking it on a planet and losing power with nighttime, weather, climate, seasons, latitude, dust, etc.).

    f. They are mega-structures, and constructing them takes lots of materials of all types to make (especially after setting up assembly lines). So, they like a bottomless sink for minerals – it doesn't matter what you mine. This is a major reason why people want to do space mining on the moon, and the asteroids.

    g. You make your own land during manufacture. Nobody ever needs to terraform anything at all in the galaxy.

    h. You can use a single universal colony design for all space habitats. Not have a multitude of specialized designs, for all the types of planets you’ll run into.

    i. You can shield from radiation using anything with mass (and these stations are massive).

    j. You can make and maintain an (at shirtsleeve temperatures) atmosphere mix similar to the best of earth's surface.

    k. They are scalable from tiny utility stations (like the VonBraun-type station) and much larger with some fancier construction materials. It is much more living-space efficient to build habitats than use planetary surfaces (which you're going run out of real fast).

    l. Keep in mind we are not just moving humans into space, we are moving the whole ecosystem. If you try this on Mars, you will get a mass extinction.

    m. You can create an earth-like day/night cycle with mirrors, or led displays (if you have the power).

    n. You never have to have a plethora of life-support-systems, for all the different species of humans when they all get together.

    This is simple. Where do you want to bring the kids, heaven or hell?

    Thanks for listening
    , and have a Happy Halloween. 🙂

  23. It kind of amazes me how Undertale has made such a huge impact on the internet community that now almost everyone associates the word "sans" with the funny skeleton dude in the blue jacket instead of the font "comic sans" or the literal French word "sans" meaning "without"

  24. What if……………..pansspermia is what we do. However, once we arrive to our destiny we have degenerated into micro organisms due to the effects of space.

  25. What if……………..pansspermia is what we do. However, once we arrive to our destiny we have degenerated into micro organisms due to the effects of space.

  26. A couple if ideas:
    1) Regarding radiation shielding, might the old M2P2 device be useful? It effectively creates an artificial magnet/ion-onosphere that can expand with increased atomic and magnetic density. It was once poised as a sort of ideal solar sail replacement.

    2) the gravity issue: surely a rotating structure could solve this and help train the astronauts for the reduced Martian gravity. Such as a previous YouTuber (name sadly forgotten) suggested for @Spacex Starship of linking two platforms together and triggering a rotation between the two to simulate gravity.

    Brain farts of a mere enthusiastic onlooker, but I like to read some responses.

  27. You can tell Hank's really excited about the just the thought of us becoming an interplanetary species, and fair enough! When you remember that we're animals born from the natural process of evolution like very other species, it's pretty mind blowing that nature made one that can actually leave the playing field itself and migrate between entire planets.

  28. All the potential candidates for the mars trip need to be cleared medically that they do not suffer from collusion delusion and TDS.

    Although on second though maybe they should be sent…lol!

  29. i noticed a few problems with what you said are major obstacles to sending humans on a interplanetary travel, gravity can pretty easily simulated via centrifugal force (the force of the spin of something, in this case a rocket ) and simply use mono propellant to make ship spin on the axis of the cylinder, and for the sleeping schedule problem that can easily be solved by having the on board lighting mimicking earth day/night cycles . though radiation is 100% a major problem while hydrogen would deal with it partially, cancer would be a nightmare for travelers through interplanetary space

  30. I can’t even stand a flight from LA to NY without suffering muscular atrophy and brain degeneration.

  31. So. Radiation. How to protect from it? I say magnets.

    Can't tell if you should sleep, or stay awake? Lights.

    But… Only a simple man think simple.

    Then you have NASA, a government owned space program, that's the problem… Government owned… They think too damn complex… Even though it's a simple solution to a, in away, simple problem.

    Need a magnetic field? Magnets, or more specifically electric magnets. Design to generate a magnetic field to cut the radiation by half, or 3/4's. O-zone in the walls to cut it some more, or something.

    Then you have telling your body when to sleep… Lights that turns on, and off based on the 24 hour time period of Earth. 12 hours of on, and 12 hours of off. Not unless you're talking about the cabins that the people well live in, or sleep in. Then let it be optional for the crew. ( when in their sleeping cabins they can have lights on. The rest of the ship program to turn the lights off at specific time.)

    Simple I know, but simple problem, just sounds more complex than what it really is.

  32. during the mars flight the ship will rotate around its central axis at 7.7rpm, creating mars-like 'gravity'. So no problem.

  33. Also the radiation has a solution – polyethylene is an excellent radiation shield. The ship walls will be coated with it.

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