Sunday December 8, 2019
Home Lead Story Astronauts Ca...

Astronauts Can Be Shielded From Radiation On Moon: NASA

How NASA plans to shield astronauts from radiation on the moon

0
//
NASA
NASA plans to develop a new technology that can save astronauts from radiation on Moon. Pixabay

As NASA plans to return astronauts to the moon and ultimately send humans to Mars, teams across the space agency are working to build solutions for protecting the travellers from harmful radiation.

Some teams are developing technology such as wearable vests and devices that add mass and electrically charged surfaces that deflect radiation.

When NASA sends humans to the moon again, it would want them to stay there, unlike the Apollo mission 50 years ago. But long-time exposure to space radiation may raise health risks, including cancer. Developing solutions for shielding astronauts from space radiation is, therefore, very crucial.

NASA
Radiation on the Moon is hazardous to human health and it has long-term health problems. Pixabay

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center are developing a way to make use of the mass on board the Orion spacecraft to protect the crew who venture into deep space.

NASA said Orion will be equipped with a radiation-sensing instrument integrated into the vehicle called the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA), to provide a warning if crew members need to take shelter in case of a radiation event such as a solar flare.

To protect themselves, astronauts will position themselves in the central part of the crew module largely reserved for storing items they will need during the flight and create a shelter using the stowage bags on board.

Anywhere the astronauts go, the scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston will keep watch over their space environment.

During a future Artemis mission, if a solar radiation squall were to occur while astronauts are beyond earth’s magnetic bubble, they might tell the crew to build a temporary shelter.

“Our strategy in space is to make use of whatever mass is available,” Johnson scientist Kerry Lee said in a statement on Thursday.

NASA
Earth’s view from moon’s surface. Pixabay

“We’re redistributing mass to fill in areas that are thinly shielded and getting crew members closer to the heavily shielded areas,” Lee added.

The more mass between the crew and radiation, the more likely that dangerous particles will deposit their energy before reaching the crew.

On the moon, astronauts could pile lunar soil, or regolith, over their shelters, taking advantage of their environment’s natural shielding materials.

NASA
Satellite captures Moon’s view from Earth’s orbit. Pixabay

“It’s unlikely that we’re going to be able to fly dedicated radiation-shielding mass,” Lee said.

“Every item you fly will have to be multi-purpose,” he added.

Also Read: Uhuru Kenyatta in Barbados, Holds Talks with Prime Minister Mia Mottley

US President Donald Trump’s administration earlier directed NASA to return humans to the moon by 2024 and then go forward to Mars. NASA has named this programme “Artemis” in honour of Apollo’s twin sister in Greek mythology, the Moon Goddess.

NASA last month said that the Orion crew capsule is ready for its first unmanned trip to the moon. (IANS)

Next Story

Vikram Lander Spotted On Moon

The Vikram moonlander was sent by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aboard the Chandraayan 2 that orbited the moon

0
India’s Vikram lunar lander
India’s Vikram lunar lander, which crashed on its final approach to the Moon’s surface in September, has been found. Pixabay

BY ARUL LOUIS 

Shanmuga Subramanian, the eagle-eyed citizen space scientist who found Vikram moonlander said on Tuesday that he took spotting it as a challenge when NASA couldn’t.

He said in an email interview to IANS: “It was something challenging as even NASA can’t find out so why can’t we try out? And that’s the thought that led me to search for Vikram lander.”

Subramanian, who works as an information technology architect, in his spare time looked through the images taken by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) camera on September 17 and spotted a debris from Vikram.

Those images were taken when the light during moon’s dusk was very harsh at the place where the moonlander crashed and the long shadows made the hunt for Vikram difficult, NASA and LRO said at that time.

LRO Project Scientist Noah Petro, to whom Subramanian emailed his finding, told IANS: “The story of this really amazing individual (who) found it, helped us find it, is really awesome.”

The Vikram moonlander was sent by the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) aboard the Chandraayan 2 that orbited the moon.

Vikram was launched from Chandrayaan on September 6 in hopes of making a safelanding and exploring the moon’s surface. However, it lost contact with ISRO minutes before the scheduled landing and crashed.

Vikram Moon Lander
A Moon landing is the arrival of a spacecraft on the surface of the Moon. Pixabay

Petro said: “This is the wonderful thing about our data. We released it for the world and anyone can use and he used it to make this discovery.”

Subramanian suggested a crowd-sourced citizen scientist movement to help space organisations.

“LRO’s data is a treasure trove. I would suggest students and others to help out NASA, ISRO and other space organisations by building a good database of LRO images with features like comparison etc.,” Subramanian told IANS.

“Currently we have to compare it manually (and I) wish someone can do more on that, with NASA’s scientists time crunched for their Moon missions,” he added.

Asked how he got interested, Subramanian said: “Space exploration is nothing new for me as I have been interested in space right from the scratch and watched ISRO’s rocket launches closely even managed to capture some of it on my YouTube channel.

“I don’t think Vikram lander would have made a such impact on the minds of the Indian public if it had landed successfully (but) since it was lost there was a lot of discussion in public forums as well as on my Facebook regarding what malfunctioned etc.

“The crash landing of Vikram made more people interested in it and it also got eventually hooked me, which lead to me searching NASA’s pic for nearly some 4-5 hours every night.”

Subramanian spoke of the social media world of space enthusiasts where intense discussions were taking place about the mystery of Vikram and which helped his quest.

“Initially there was lot of false positives I got (that were) corrected by Twitterati and one of the tweets led to me a Reddit forum where they had the exact intended landing location and the path of Vikram,” he said.

Vikram on moon
The Moon is an astronomical body that orbits the Earth as its only permanent natural satellite. Pixabay

On being able to narrow down the area for his search, he said: “Though there was no data available about the path of Vikram lander, I eventually concluded it would have come from North Pole as one of the tweets from ‘cgbassa’ said Vikram has crossed the North Pole of the moon. And from ISRO’s live images, I made out it would have stopped short of around 1 km from the landing spot so it eventually led to me searching around 2 sq km around the landing area.”

That tweet was from CG Bassa, an astronomer with Astron, the Dutch radio astronomy institute.

ALSO READ: Nations and their Moon Missions

After better pictures came from the LRO’s pass over the area in October and on November 11, when the light conditions improved, the LRO camera team scoured the area surrounding the spot where Subramanian had spotted a debris and found the impact spot of Vikram’s crash and other debris, the ASU said.

The impact site is located at 70.8810AoS, 22.7840AoE, at an elevation of 834 metres, it added. (IANS)