It seems mouse sperm remains viable in space even after extended periods of time as Japanese researchers managed to successfully impregnate female mice with frozen mouse sperm that spent nine months in space. The healthy rodent offspring are an encouraging sign that Mars settlers will be able to reproduce once they build their off-planet community.
There Are Still Many Unanswered Questions in the Martian Colonization Plan
At the moment, NASA alongside a plethora of researchers from all around the globe are furiously trying to work out the kinks in the Martian colonization plan. While some scientists are attempting to figure out a way to build a ship that will shield humans from deadly space radiations, others are thinking even bigger, asking themselves if humans, once settled on the Red Planet, will be able to reproduce in alien conditions.
As NASA’s extensive experiments have proven, the human body is affected by zero gravity conditions, the spine losing its curvature, muscles weakening, and fluids building up. Moreover, apart from extensive zero-gravity exposure, the settlers will also have to survive deep space radiation, which affects the integrity of the heart muscle.
Zero Gravity Exposure and Space Radiation Affect Fertility
Even though mouse sperm remains viable in space after an extensive period of time, news is not as good for the female reproductive system. The Japanese team found severe damage to the ovaries of female rodents exposed to space radiation. Apart from being unable to properly colonize the Red Planet, the dream dying along the last initial and sterile settlers, women astronauts will also be exposed to high risks of osteoporosis, neurodegenerative diseases, cardiovascular problems, and ovarian cancer.
More research and development is needed before the first team of humans climb into a spacecraft and set their course towards Mars. First, scientists must find an efficient way to shield the crew from space radiation and minimize the damaging effects of zero gravity.
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