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Report: more studies of Martian hazards necessary
Posted: Thu, May 2, 2002, 1:53 PM ET (1753 GMT)
Mars Exploration Rover (NASA/JPL) NASA should conduct more research into potential environmental, chemical, and biological hazards before sending any humans to Mars, a report issued Wednesday concluded. The report, by the National Research Council, said that a number of aspects of the Martian environment could pose risks to future astronauts, ranging from rough terrain to hazardous chemicals to native biological organisms. The report noted as one example that there is uncertainty about the amount of hexavelant chromium, a metal that is a carcinogen in even small doses, present in Martian dust. The report also said that NASA should identify regions of "minimal biologic risk" on the planet before sending people there, as well as enact safeguards to prevent any Martian life from contaminating the Earth.
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