Recent studies out of the University of California could mean problems for astronauts on the Mars journey. Although cosmic radiation constantly enters Earth, our magnetic field is able to deflect the worst of these rays. A study was conducted at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory in New York in which scientists exposed rats and mice to radioactive isotopes of titanium and oxygen. These isotopes are both components of cosmic rays. They sent their animals to the University of California, and within six months brain swelling occurred. After this more permanent damage became apparent, such as rats and mice losing their ability to master easy tasks.
These rays can also damage a process called “Fear extinction.” This is when you undergo a near death experience such as drowning, and you begin to develop a fear to that experience. After gradual exposure to that fear inducing experience, you become accustomed to that activity again. If you get a high dose of cosmic rays, then this process stops working. This can lead to anxiety, depression and impaired decision making. This could be very harmful to astronauts who spend a large amount of time in space. ~ Brandon Smith