People who live on Mars may need to be genetically altered to be resistant to radiation. And while it might seem a long way off, research is already underway to work out how this can be done
Elon Musk dreams of creating a million-person city on Mars. But first, the SpaceX and Tesla founder is going to need a small group of people with an unusual genetic trait in common; resistance to radiation.
Radiation resistance in humans and animals is something we know little about, although we know it exists. At the moment, resistance tests are used to try and predict how much radiation cancer patients can survive, but one day this could be an important decider of who gets to venture into space.
Our Earth is protected from the harmful radiation from the Sun by our magnetic field, but astronauts that leave the planet will be bombarded with the dangerous particles.
Norman Kleiman, from Columbia University's Mailman School of Public Health, has spent his career using eyes as a way to study the effects of exposure to radiation. We know more about individuals, human or animals, that have genetic defects in certain genes or groups of genes and therefore exhibit radiosensitivity, than those who are more resistant to the effects of radiation, he explains.