NASA believes that they may have found a solution to one of the biggest challenges facing future missions to Mars.

According to The Times, that problem lies in protecting astronauts from cosmic radiation. The space agency, which is planning to send explorers to the red planet in the 2030s, is considering the use of drugs that alter the DNA code of its crews.

This has the potential to repair any damage sustained from the high energy particles that will consume the bodies of the travellers, greatly increasing their risks of cancer and other diseases.

The news was shared by NASA’s chief technologist, Dr Douglas Terrier, ahead of an appearance at the Codex innovation summit, held in London.

Other discussed technologies included that of NMN, a compound expected to enter clinical trials after it was shown to rejuvenate elderly mice in laboratory tests. It is also considering making more advanced tweaks or alterations to the DNA of its astronauts, despite the moral implications of such a radical step will be needed to be addressed.

This would include epigenetic modifications, which alter the way genes are read by the body without making changes to the underlying DNA code. In turn, the technique would enable NASA’s scientists to adjust the volume on one genetic instruction or mute another.

Furthermore, NASA has announced that it is considering the use of an artificial programme that would be able to diagnose diseases and perform robotic surgery in space.