Barack Obama wants to put people on Mars in the coming decades.
It would be a landmark mission in the evolution of space travel.
But, it could pose serious health risks to anyone who makes the trip, says research published in Nature on Monday.
Matt Damon in "The Martian." (Photo: Fox)
On Earth, humans are protected from galactic cosmic rays by the magnetosphere.
Travelling beyond the that sphere to Mars would expose them to such rays, which would "penetrate the hull of a spacecraft and tissues of the body," the paper said.
That would lead to memory loss, increased anxiety, and affect critical decision-making during "normal operations or under emergency conditions in deep space," it added.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's head explodes on Mars in a scene from "Total Recall."
NASA Researchers tested particles from the rays on mice. The rodents were then put through behavioural tests three and six months after exposure.
Mice showed reduced learning and memory function for after being exposed.
They also demonstrated higher anxiety and reduced responses to stressful events.
U.S. President Barack Obama, who wants to put humans on Mars. (Photo: Olivier Douliery/Pool/Corbis via Getty Images)
"Exposure to these particles can lead to a range of potential central nervous system complications that can occur during and persist long after actual space travel," study author and University of California, Irvine professor Charles Limoli told Forbes.
"Many of these adverse consequences to cognition may continue and progress throughout life."
The research comes as Tesla co-founder and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also looks to put people on Mars in 2025.
Musk wants to establish a human colony on the planet, but he wants to start out by sending unmanned missions to space using SpaceX rockets in 2018.
Elon Musk, chief executive officer for Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX), speaks during the 67th International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Guadalajara, Mexico, on Sept. 27, 2016. (Photo: Bloomberg via Getty Images)
In an opinion piece for CNN published Tuesday, Obama outlined his goal to send humans to the red planet by the 2030s, "with the ultimate ambition to one day remain there for an extended time."
The outgoing president is meeting with top scientists and engineers this week in an effort to "find the next frontiers."
Obama said the U.S. is working with private sector partners to build habitats that can sustain astronauts on missions deep into space, and help people learn how far people can survive out in the universe.