Space Radiation Is Getting More Intense, Says Study

Posted: Mar 18 2018, 3:44pm CDT | by , in News | Latest Science News

 
Space Radiation is Getting More Intense, Says Study
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center

Researchers have found that space radiation is now more hazardous than ever before

The outer space is full of radiation. Once astronauts leave the Earth’s protective atmosphere, they are exposed to high energy charged particles or cosmic rays. These radiations are harmful and always considered a health risk for astronauts. Now, a new research has found that space radiation is becoming increasingly hazardous. The amount of radiation an astronaut receives today is much higher than the previous estimates and can have serious implications for both astronauts and satellites floating in space.

“The radiation dose rates from measurements obtained over the last four years exceeded trends from previous solar cycles by at least 30 percent, showing that the radiation environment is getting far more intense," said lead study author Nathan Schwadron. "These particle radiation conditions present important environmental factors for space travel and space weather, and must be carefully studied and accounted for in the planning and design of future missions to the moon, Mars, asteroids and beyond."

Outside the Earth’s magnetic field there are galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) and solar particle events (SPEs). In September 2017, a significant Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) event released large doses of radiation. Such radiation exposure could lead to detrimental consequences. However, it is difficult to predict the long-term effects of space radiation on the human body, especially on those who spend long time in space.

Researchers have been investigating the phenomenon for many years. In 2014, they predicted around a 20 percent increase in radiation dose rates from one solar minimum to the next. But it turned out that it exceeds their estimates by 10 percent. Using data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) and other space-based observations, researchers show that radiation dose rate is rising faster than previously thought.

“We now know that the radiation environment of deep space that we could send human crews into at this point is quite different compared to that of previous crewed missions to the moon.” Schwadron said.

The increase makes space radiation a big challenge for human journey to Mars and beyond. Even in International Space Station, astronauts receive over ten times the radiation than what naturally occurs on Earth. That’s despite the fact that ISS sits just within Earth’s protective magnetic field.

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