October 28, 2021

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Artemis Moon Mission Health Risk: Radiation levels are dangerous

Artemis Moon Mission Health Risk: Radiation levels are dangerous

The findings are not unexpected, but it does mean that lunar bases need to be built with extra protection.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla – Future lunar explorers will be bombed with two to three times more radiation than astronauts at the International Space Station, which is a health hazard, requiring thick-walled shelters for protection, scientists reported Friday.

China’s lander on the far side of the moon is providing the first complete measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, with the study aiming to send astronauts with important information to NASA and others.

A Sino-German team reports on radiation data collected by Lander – named Chang 4 for the Chinese moon goddess – in the US Journal of Science Advances.

“It now contains a set of data that can be used to benchmark our radiation and help people better understand the potential danger to the moon,” said Thomas Berger, a physicist with the German Space Agency’s Institute of Medicine. .

Astronauts receive 200 to 1,000 times more radiation than we experience on Earth – or five to 10 times more than passengers on a trans-Atlantic flight, according to Robert Wimmer-Schweinberger of the Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany.

“However, the difference is that we are not on such a plane as long as the astronauts are on their way to explore the moon,” Wimmer-Schweinsteiner said in an email.

The primary risk of cancer.

“Humans are not really made for these radiation levels and need to protect themselves while on the moon,” he says.

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Except near the walls of deep craters, radiation levels should be the same on the moon, Wimmer-Schweinzgruber said.

“In general, the less you see the sky, the better. It is the primary source of radiation, ”he said.

Radiation levels are close to what models expect, says Wimmer-Schweingruber. Levels measured by Chang 4 are, in fact, “almost in agreement” with measurements made by a detector on a NASA orbiter orbiting the moon for more than a decade, said Kerry Lee, a space radiation expert at the Johnson Space Center. In Houston.

“It’s great to be able to verify what we think and see how our understanding of how radiation interacts with the moon is expected,” said Lee, who did not participate in the China-led study.

In a detailed outline released this week, the first pair of astronauts to land on the moon under the new Artemis program will spend a week on the lunar surface, more than twice as much as the Apollo crew did half a century ago. The expeditions last from one to two months after the base camp is established.

NASA is looking to keep astronauts on the moon by the end of 2024, the fastest speed ever ordered by the White House, and sometime on Mars in the 2030s.

The space agency said the radiation detectors and all Orion crew flying to the moon would have a safe shelter in the cartridges. In the case of the original Landers, three different corporate teams are developing their own craft under NASA supervision. For the first Artemis Moon landing, at least, the astronauts live in the ascending part of their lander.

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German researchers suggest shelters built of moon dust – material that is readily available – to last longer than a few days. They said the walls should be 80 centimeters (about 2 1/2 feet) thick. Any thick and dust emits its own secondary radiation, which is created when galactic cosmic rays interact with lunar soil.

“So in this sense – I think the walls of European castles are too thick!” Berger wrote in an email.

The Associated Press Department of Health and Science is supported by the Department of Science Education of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. AP is solely responsible for all content.