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NASA To Study Radiation’s Impact On Monkeys

November 2, 2009

NASA intends to conduct a study on long-term exposure to low doses of radiation among monkeys in an effort to determine how being away from the Earth’s magnetic field will impact human astronauts traveling to Mars.

“Obviously, the closer we get to man, the better,” Eleanor Blakely, a biophysicist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, told the UK’s Telegraph.

Scientists will be studying how radiation exposure impacts the central nervous system and behavior of the primates, which will be instructed to perform tasks in order to gauge how the radiation is changing their performance.

“There’s a long-standing commitment on the part of NASA to deep space travel and with that commitment comes a need for knowing what kinds of adverse effects deep space travel might have, what are the risks to astronauts,” said Jack Bergman, behavioral pharmacologist at Harvard Medical School’s McLean Hospital.

“That’s not been well assessed.”

“The beauty of this is that we can assess at different time points after exposure, so not only do we get a sense of rather immediate effects, but then we can look again at longer time points,” he told the Telegraph.

“That kind of information just hasn’t been available.”

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