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t started out mainly as a curiosity after an observation in the laboratory. Mice bombarded with a dose of radiation comparable to what they’d get on a mission to Mars had signs of endothelial dysfunction in their blood vessels predisposing them to atherosclerosis. Michael D. Delp, PhD, who has studied the effects of spaceflight on the cardiovascular system in animal models for more than 2 decades, wondered if the type of damage he was seeing in mice might have also occurred in astronauts who had flown into deep space./.../
Astronauts are exposed to much lower doses of radiation than what cancer patients typically receive during radiotherapy, Delp said. However, the high-energy charged particles in deep space create complex DNA damage and cause oxidative stress in the body’s vasculature, making them far more damaging to biological tissue than clinical radiation.