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surveyork
21:57

To send an expedition to Mars today, NASA would have to knowingly expose astronauts to cancerous, or even lethal, levels of space radiation. It's an ethical quandary for those involved in NASA's renewed push toward deep-space exploration. And it's being explored by some of the most distinguished scholars, scientists, engineers, health professionals and ethicists in the nation.

It's "the elephant in the room," NASA Chief Astronaut Robert Behnken recently told a National Academy of Sciences committee.

"We're talking about a lot of ionizing radiation, almost a guarantee for cancer, and you are really close to the edge of the range for lethal exposure," said Kristin Shrader-Frechette, a University of Notre Dame professor and a specialist in ethical issues that arise in scientific research and technology development. "If we can't get shorter transit times in space, and we can't get better shielding, then we really can't do (a Mars) spaceflight."

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