Can Humans Get To Mars?

Grind for September 23rd, 2018
“My dad used to say that living with regrets was like driving a car that only moved in reverse.”

– Jodi Picoult

A Good Idea

The Headline

Facebook says it will work with nonprofits to fight the spread of fake news

The Grind

As announced Wednesday, Facebook will be teaming up with two non-profits to fight the spread of fake news on its platform.

According to Facebook’s VP of Communications, Facebook will not have the right to review or approve the non-profits’ findings prior to publication.

“We think it’s an important new model for partnerships between industry and academia,” said a Facebook spokesperson. “The last two years have taught us that the same Facebook tools that help politicians connect with their constituents…can also be misused to manipulate and deceive.”

Facebook is also setting up a “command center” at its HQ in Menlo Park, California to monitor what’s going on with upcoming elections in the US and Brazil.

The Background

Facebook’s announcement comes after months of criticism in regards to its failure to police information on its platform during the 2016 elections.

According to CEO Mark Zuckerberg, blocking the spread of fake news is one of the site’s “top priorities” for 2018.

In August, Facebook said it had removed more than 600 “inauthentic” pages, accounts, and groups linked to Iran and Russia for spreading fake news. Overall, the site has deleted nearly 1.3 billion fake accounts since last October.

“In 2016, our election security efforts prepared us for traditional cyberattacks like phishing, malware, and hacking,” wrote Zuckerberg. “What we didn’t expect were foreign actors launching coordinated information operations with networks of fake accounts spreading division and misinformation.”

Facebook is better prepared for these kinds of attacks in 2018, he added.

Houston, We Have A Problem

The Headline

New data suggests trip to Mars could be fatal for humans

The Grind

As politicians and public figures continue to discuss future strategies for colonizing Mars, new data suggests the trip could expose astronauts to deadly levels of cosmic radiation.

This data comes from the ExoMars TraceGas Orbiter (TGO), a probe launched in 2016 by the European and Russian space agencies.

The Details

According to measurements taken by the TGO during its trip from Earth to Mars, a round-trip journey to the Red Planet would expose astronauts to 600 mSv of radiation – and that doesn’t take into account the radiation they would experience while on Mars or in its orbit.

To give you an idea, 600 mSv would be like experiencing 600 chest X-rays.

According to experts, 600 mSv makes up a full 60% of an astronaut’s career radiation limit – or the amount of radiation a person can safely sustain before risking increased cancer risk, damage to the central nervous system, and other health problems.

While the TGO’s findings about radiation present yet another obstacle on the road to Mars, the information will help us figure out how to best protect future crews from potentially fatal levels of radiation.

And the more information we have, the higher our chances of success.

Did you know… There are 92 known cases of nuclear bombs lost at sea.