A recent study has concluded that astronauts at Mars will be exposed to low dose radiation in deep space which can cause brain impairment issues like memory loss, learning gaps and even anxiety. The details of this study which was published in journal eNeuro further elaborated that radiation in space when delivered at 1mGy/day over long periods of time, 6 months or more can lead to adverse neurocognitive effects.
They carried out a study on male mice that were subjected to low doses of radiation over a period of six months and found out on examining them that their prefrontal cortex and hippocampus had been damaged by radiation. This lead to impairment in their memory and also reduced their learning abilities. They also observed that the mice appeared to be stressed and anxious which indicated that radiation could also have affected their amygdala.
The study is now focused on showing that exposure to radiation in space over long period of time is likely to have adverse effect on cognitive abilities of people over a period of time. Researchers now believe that one among five astronauts that are bound for mission to Mars is likely to experience anxiety while one among three will have memory issues while all of them may find it hard to make quick decisions which could be crucial on a mission like this. These researchers highlighted need for safety measures for astronaut protection as communication between Earth and Mars is likely to be delayed by 20 minutes.
Astronauts on International Space Station are not exposed to radiation right now as they are within the protect habitat of low earth orbit. NASA is working with other advanced shielding technologies to protect astronauts from radiation while another group is developing pharmacologic measures for protection of mind and body from radiation.