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Astronauts Can Be Shielded From Radiation On Moon: NASA

How NASA plans to shield astronauts from radiation on the moon

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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.

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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)

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SpaceX Plans To Send NASA Astronauts To Space in Q2 This Year

As part of the test on Sunday, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after liftoff

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NASA
It took a lot of work between NASA and SpaceX to get to this point. Pixabay

After NASA and SpaceX successfully completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that his aerospace company aims to send NASA astronauts to space between April and June this year.

This was the final major flight test of the spacecraft before it begins carrying astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, the US space agency said in a statement on Sunday.

With this test now complete, the next big flight of the Crew Dragon will have people on board: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

“We’re highly confident that the hardware will be ready in Q1, most likely at the end of February but no later than March. And we think it appears probable that the first crewed launch would occur in the second quarter,” said Musk after the successful uncrewed test of its Crew Dragon capsule’s in-flight launch escape capabilities.

Musk said that if all goes well, the first crewed flight on the Crew Dragon could take place in the second quarter of this year.

“This critical flight test puts us on the cusp of returning the capability to launch astronauts in American spacecraft on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We are thrilled with the progress NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme is making and look forward to the next milestone for Crew Dragon.”

As part of the test on Sunday, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about 1.5 minutes after liftoff. All major functions were executed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down at 10:38 am just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

“As far as we can tell thus far, it’s a picture perfect mission. It went as well as one can possibly expect,” said Musk. “This is a reflection of the dedication and hard work of the SpaceX and NASA teams to achieve this goal. Obviously, I’m super fired up. This is great.”

NASA
After NASA and SpaceX successfully completed a launch escape demonstration of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, Elon Musk said that his aerospace company aims to send NASA astronauts to space between April and June this year. Wikimedia Commons

Prior to the flight test, teams completed launch day procedures for the first crewed flight test, from suit-up to launch pad operations. The joint teams now will begin the full data reviews that need to be completed prior to NASA astronauts flying the system during SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission. “The past few days have been an incredible experience for us,” said astronaut Doug Hurley.

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“Today, we watched the demonstration of a system that we hope to never use, but can save lives if we ever do. It took a lot of work between NASA and SpaceX to get to this point, and we can’t wait to take a ride to the space station soon,” he said in the NASA statement. (IANS)