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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)

Next Story

India’s Chandrayaan-2 on Course to Moon

The Indian space agency said the major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, the trans-lunar insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram’s separation from Chandrayaan-2 and touch down on the Moon’s South Pole

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India, Spacecraft, Moon
A spectator holds an Indian flag after a mission of Indian Space Research Organization's Chandrayaan-2, with the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle on board was called back because of a technical snag in Sriharikota, India, July 15, 2019. VOA

The Indian space agency on Tuesday completed successfully the crucial orbit manoeuvre and put the Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft into the lunar orbit.

According to Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO), the Lunar Orbit Insertion (LOI) was completed successfully at 9.02 a.m. as planned using the onboard propulsion system. All the systems of Chandrayaan-2 are healthy.

“The duration of manoeuvre was 1,738 seconds. With this, Chandrayaan-2 was successfully inserted into a lunar orbit. The orbit achieved is 114km X 18,072km,” the ISRO said.

Following this, a series of orbit manoeuvres will be performed on Chandrayaan-2 spacecraft to enable it to enter its final orbit passing over the lunar poles at a distance of about 100 km from the Moon’s surface.

Subsequently, the lander — Vikram — will separate from the Orbiter and enter into a 100km X 30km orbit around the Moon.

“Then, it will perform a series of complex braking manoeuvres to soft land in the South Polar region of the Moon on September 7, 2019,” ISRO said.

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

The health of the spacecraft is being continuously monitored from the Mission Operations Complex (MOX) at ISRO Telemetry, Tracking and Command Network (ISTRAC) in Bengaluru with support from Indian Deep Space Network (IDSN) antennas at Bylalu, near the Karnataka capital.

The next Lunar bound orbit manoeuvre is scheduled on Wednesday between 12.30-1.30 p.m.

On July 22, the Chandrayaan-2 was injected into an elliptical orbit of 170X45,475 km by India’s heavy lift rocket Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle-Mark III (GSLV Mk III) in a text book style.

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The spacecraft comprises three segments – the Orbiter (weighing 2,379 kg, eight payloads), the lander ‘Vikram’ (1,471 kg, four payloads) and rover ‘Pragyan’ (27 kg, two payloads).

The Indian space agency said the major activities include Earth-bound manoeuvres, the trans-lunar insertion, lunar-bound manoeuvres, Vikram’s separation from Chandrayaan-2 and touch down on the Moon’s South Pole. (IANS)