Ethicality of Sending Astronauts to Mars
There are numerous challenges involved in space explorations ranging from logistical nightmares, huge capital expenditures and dangerous environments such as increased risk of exposure to harmful radiations. These challenges ultimately pose the question of ethicality of sending humans on a mission to Mars. The biggest challenge in space explorations is the continuous exposure to harmful radiations from the sun. This may not have immediate effects on the astronauts but in the long term it may lead to complications such as cancer and tissue degeneration.
People living on earth are shielded from the adverse effects of radiation not only by the atmosphere but also the protective Van Allen radiation belt which is held in place by the Earth’s magnetic field. As a result, the cosmic rays of the sun are kept in check to minimize harmful risks on the health of human beings. Despite immense research efforts on the risks and solutions of the cosmic rays beyond our space there is still uncertainty in level of damage and types of cells it can damage. Hence, this remains an area of further research that needs to be delved into deeply.
Volunteers may come forward and risk their lives to go to Mars. The environment in mars is dangerous and harsh and humans may still not be immune to these environmental hazards in Mars. They will be exposed to unknown and dangerous levels of radiation. Furthermore, Mars atmosphere is filled with carbon dioxide. Exploration of Mars will result in avoidable health problems despite the limited success. NASA scientists have argued that a one-way trip can avoid further logistical costs that may be incurred in sending back the astronauts from Mars back to Earth. However, these astronauts will be exposed to higher radiation levels in their lifetime leading to a short lifespan.
In conclusion, sending humans to explore Mars is unethical and nonviable endeavour since it will not only result in deaths but may also predispose people to conditions that may lead to death. It is also an expensive undertaking with little social, scientific, economic and political gains.
Cucinotta, Francis A., and Marco Durante. “Cancer risk from exposure to galactic cosmic rays: implications for space exploration by human beings.” The Lancet Oncology 7, no. 5 (2006): 431-435.