Caves and other subsurface environments in the future exploration of Mars: The absence of natural background radiation as biology concern

Emiliano Fratini, Roberto Amendola

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The human deep space exploration focused on Mars, being the near eventual final destination. Mars surface habitation is considered a dangerous solution. Among others, radiation, micrometeorites and dust storms, are the major causes of risk for the human well-being during the mission. Caves on Mars can provide a natural shelter against these environmental hazards. Several practical applications address forward the use of caves as habitation opportunity. Within the caves, inflatable structures can be used, as opposed to the heavy structure surface buildings. For this reason, studies were taken to assess the possible areas for which caves could be used as human habitats as an alternative for an initial settlement of Mars. The results obtained not only suggest strong arguments for the use of caves, but also open questions for further quantification and understanding of current unknowns. In the present review,we focus on the hypothetical biological effects due to the cave shelter for natural background radiation that is of three orders of magnitude lower than Mars surface. Background radiation is the ubiquitous ionizing radiation that organisms experienced on the Earth, being present at the appearance of life on Earth. Nevertheless, both the effects of natural background radiation and its absence are not well known. We review the literature based on the effects of the absence of natural background to pursue a common scientific effort to gain scientific knowledge in this future deep space exploration scenario in a Sino-Italy cooperation, taking advantage of the JingPing cavern laboratory in the Sichuan region. © Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei 2013.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)-
JournalATTI Della Accademia Nazionale Dei Lincei Rendiconti Lincei Scienze Fisiche E Naturali
Issue numberSUPPL. 1
Publication statusPublished - 2014
Externally publishedYes


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Science(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

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