Pretty amazing study from Ames Research Center. Whether or not it really matters, I don’t know. It seems that by the time we develop technology for long period space travel that there is a good chance we can block cosmic rays as well.
Sexual reproduction is likely to be impossible in space due to cosmic
radiation bombarding the human body, according to Nasa scientists.
Researchers at the agency’s Ames
Research Centre in California found that without effective shielding
on spacecraft, powerful proton particles would probably sterilise any female
embryo conceived in deep space
They also concluded that male fertility was likely to be negatively affected,
with the particles damaging the sperm count.
Given that travel to distant planets is likely to take decades, centuries or
longer, this could make any mission to colonise other environments a
The scientists noted that space shield technology is currently not
sufficiently advanced to offer enough protection from this type of radiation.
Dr Tore Straume, a radiation biophysicist at the centre, said: “The present
shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy transited
The DNA which manages the development of all the cells in the body is
particularly susceptible to the kinds of radiation found in space.
Studies on animals have shown that exposure to ionising radiation can kills
egg cells in a female foetus as far on as the second or third trimester.
Dr Straume added: “One would have to be very protective of those cells
during gestation, during pregnancy, to make sure that the female didn’t
become sterile so they could continue the colony.”
Nasa has a strict code of conduct on sexual relations, stating that “relationships
of trust” among astronauts are to be maintained at all times.
The research was published in the Journal of Cosmology.