Broadcast 2503 (Special Edition)

The Space Foundation Conference

07 Jul 2015 Dr. Charles Limoli
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Guest: Dr. Charles Limoli. Topics: We discussed space radiation in the context of his paper, "What Happens To Your Brain On The Way To Mars?" Please direct all comments and questions regarding Space Show programs/guest(s) to the Space Show blog, Comments and questions should be relevant to the specific Space Show program. Written Transcripts of Space Show programs are a violation of our copyright and are not permitted without prior written consent, even if for your own use. We do not permit the commercial use of Space Show programs or any part thereof, nor do we permit editing, YouTube clips, or clips placed on other private channels & websites. Space Show programs can be quoted, but the quote must be cited or referenced using the proper citation format. Contact The Space Show for further information. In addition, please remember that your Amazon purchases can help support The Space Show/OGLF. See For those listening to archives using and rating the programs, please email me as to why you assign a specific rating to the show. This will help me bring better programming to the audience. We welcomed Dr. Charles Limoli to the program for this 90 minute discussion on space radiation and astronauts, especially flying in deep space, going to Mars or back to the Moon, evening residing on the Moon or Mars. You can read his paper which has been uploaded to The Space Show blog for this program. During the first segment, Dr. Limoli outlined the basics of his research. Before going deeper into the topic, I asked him several questions about the use of rodents and mice for the experiments, the possible use of other animals, the constraints and limitations of radiation simulation experiments, plus how these radiation experiments and doses differ from humans getting radiation treatment for cancer or other medical problems. We had quite the discussion on rodent brains compared to human brains, animal experiments in general, plus the protocols used in his experiments which were all carried out at Brookhaven. By the way, Dr. Limoli is a space advocate, he has received NASA funding for years, and he and his team have a great interest in radiation issues for human spaceflight. Dr. Limoli then took time to tell us how the experiments were conducted. Some of the discussion is technical so I suggest you read his paper which has been placed on TSS blog. Dr. Limoli went into significant detail to tell us how they conducted the experiments, applied the low dose radiation to the subjects, and how they evaluated the results. Don't miss his description and analysis of the experiments. He said the changes were subtle measured 6-8 weeks out but he also said future papers may show that the cognitive changes continued to happen over a much longer period of time. In response to one of my questions, he said there was no sign of recovery. The primary changes that were observed and reported in the paper had to do with cognitive impairment which we discussed in detail throughout this program. I asked our guest about age, gender, race, and cultural differences. I also asked if NASA was now doing or might do in the future some genetic screening to find those best suited for a high radiation environment. Space settlement risks were talked about as was childbirth and pregnancy. Dr. Doug from S. California called to talk about GCR shielding. He wanted to inquire about using the stuff on the mission, food, water, supplies, etc. for shielding. He suggested the strategic placement of the stuff to maximize shielding. Dr. Limoli did say this was all factored in but that GCRs are non-directional so they come in from everywhere so such "stuff" shielding would only be partially helpful in protecting against radiation. For now, it would have to remain an unanswered question pending getting more research data. In this discussion, Dr. Limoli did explain the components of GCR and what they do to the body and the brain's cognitive ability. In the second segment, we took listener questions including several from our friend Dr. Logan. One such question wanted to focus on how deep you would need to go into the Martian surface to equal the protection of Earth's radiation shielding. Our guest was not sure of the actual calculation but estimated 4-5 meters. Tim in Boston sent in a note quoting what Dr. Zubrin said about Dr. Limoli's research project per his critique of the paper published in The Space Review May 11, 2015. Dr. Limoli said that what Dr. Zubrin was saying was wrong regarding the details of the experiment. It was a very interesting discussion so don't miss it. Rhonda wanted to know what Dr. Limoli would say to Elon Musk were he charged with consulting for Elon for his Mars plan and desired mission. Don't miss what he said he would tell Elon. Later in the segment, I asked our guest to connect the dots with radiation issues and the other human factors medical conditions. This too proved to be an interesting discussion so don't miss this one either. Charles was asked to talk in more detail about the observed cognitive changes and the actual tests used to reach their conclusions. In his closing remarks, he stressed how important continued research was and strongly urged listeners to support science research, write our congressmen and women, lobby for and advocate more research as it is the research that will give us more information to mitigate and resolve our spaceflight challenges. Please post your comments/questions on TSS blog above. You can reach Dr. Charles Limoli through me.



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