One of the challenges of living beyond the Earth's atmosphere for long periods of time is the danger of cosmic radiation. But discoveries made by the scientists running the Curiosity rover indicate that this won't be a problem on Mars:
"The astronauts can live in this environment," Don Hassler, principal investigator on Curiosity's Radiation Assessment Detector instrument (RAD), told a news conference.
"Basically, we're finding that the Mars atmosphere is acting as a shield for the radiation on the surface and as the atmosphere gets thicker, that provides more of a shield and therefore we see a dip in our radiation dose," Hassler said.
The findings mark the first time that cosmic rays have been measured on the surface of another planet, and come 100 years after Victor Hess discovered cosmic rays on Earth by using a hot-air balloon.