London, Feb 15 (IANS) Cosmic radiation hitting human bodies would nix sex in space, NASA scientists assert.
Researchers at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Ames Research Centre found that without effective shielding, powerful proton particles would probably sterilise any female embryo conceived in deep space, the Journal of Cosmology reports.
They also concluded that radiation would affect male fertility, with the particles damaging the sperm count, the Telegraph reports.
Given that travel to distant planets is likely to take decades, centuries or even longer, this could make any mission to colonise other environments a non-starter.
Tore Straume, radiation biophysicist at the Ames Centre, said: “The present shielding capabilities would probably preclude having a pregnancy transited to Mars.”
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 kill egg cells in a female foetus as far on as the second or third trimester.
NASA has a strict code of conduct on sexual relations, stating that “relationships of trust” among astronauts are to be maintained at all times.