Science

New measurements show astronauts may face extreme radiation exposure on moon missions

PHOTO CREDITS: UNIVERSE TODAY

New measurements taken by the instrument on China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander show that radiation levels on the Moon are 2-3 times higher than that on the ISS.

According to ABC News, future moon explorers will be bombarded with two to three times more radiation than astronauts aboard the ISS. It’s on the far side of the moon where China’s lander provided measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface.

A Chinese-German team reported on the data in the U.S. journal Science Advance. “This is an immense achievement in the sense that now we have a data set which we can use to benchmark our radiation and better understand the potential risk to people on the moon”, said Thomas Berger, a physicist with the German Space Agency’s medical institute (Washington Post). “Astronauts would get 200 to 1000 times more radiation on the moon than what we are experiencing on earth – or 5 to 10 times than that of a traveler traveling through an airline” noted by Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber (ABC). Both the earth and the moon are exposed to the deadly Cosmic Rays and Solar Winds but, due to Earth’s stronger magnetic field, the intensity of radiation exposure on the moon is higher due to the moon’s weaker magnetic field. 

Cancer is the primary risk. EM waves of high energy can cause mutations in DNA by adding or losing an electron from a chemical bond of DNA causing a change in the structure. “Humans are not really made for these radiation levels and should protect themselves when on the moon”, Wimmer added (ABC). “Measurements from Chang’e-4 are agreed nearly exactly with measurements by a detector on a NASA orbiter that has been orbiting the moon for more than a decade”, said Kerry Lee, a space radiation expert at Johnson Space Center in Houston (Washington Post). 

Moreover, NASA said under the new Artemis program, the first pair of astronauts would spend a week on the lunar surface. German researchers suggest shelters built of moon dirt – for stays of more than a few days, claiming the walls should be 0.8 meters thick to reduce exposure to the radiation.

 

ARTICLE: PATEL CHAITANYA

EDITOR: KYLE SMITH, SCIENCE EDITOR

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