Space is a very hazardous place. It’s either very hot, or very cold and has lots of radiation that can kill humans. These factors pose significant risks to astronauts traveling into space. NASA has been using the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter for a number of tasks, including studying deep-space radiation.
The LRO has helped scientist to uncover new findings about high-energy hazardous deep-space radiation near the moon. The findings were uncovered using the LRO CRaTER instrument and were recently published. The findings will help NASA improve space missions by providing new data on how much radiation to expect in deep space and how to avoid it.
Scientist Nathan Schwadron said:
We’ve never had a detector that’s been as good at understanding the effects of radiation through tissue-equivalent material as the CRaTER detector. These publications document, wall-to-wall, different effects and instrument responses with some of the best long-term measurements ever made of radiation in deep space.
CRaTER is able to observe how radiation interacts with a tissue-equivalent plastic known as TEP. The TEP detector is able to mimic radiation doses within humans that would be delivered if a person was on the moon.
CRaTER discovered a previously unmeasured source of hazardous radiation coming from the moon itself. The radiation reportedly comes from the partial reflection of galactic cosmic rays off the moon surface. The scientists are also working on a next generation radiation dose detector for future missions. The next gen tool is called Dose Spectra from Energetic particles and Neutrons or DoSEN. That tool will be able to break space radiation down into its components and evaluate them separately.