Human Space Exploration and the increased Radiation Exposure – how we tackle the issue for the NASA Artemis I mission with the MARE Experiment
Date: June 16, 2023 12-1 PM Eastern time
Speakers: Thomas Berger, PhD
The increased radiation exposure humans will face for exploration missions beyond Low Earth Orbit is one of the main obstacles to overcome for future planned missions to the Moon and for long duration missions to Mars. Beyond the protection of the Earth’s magnetic field, humans are exposed to the harsh radiation environment in free space consisting of galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) and sporadic solar particle events (SPEs) which can lead to an increased cancer risk but also to radiation sickness. The radiation exposure is and has been monitored on-board the International Space Station and in lunar orbit and on the surface of Mars. The year 2022 saw a new dawn of the space age by the first successful flight of the NASA Artemis I mission – to the Moon and back. This was the pre-cursor mission within the Artemis program to enable upcoming human missions to lunar orbit and to the surface of the Moon. Artemis I enabled the placement of a variety of radiation detectors and experiments inside the Orion crew capsule. One of them was the MARE experiment measuring the radiation load on female astronauts with two torsos (Helga and Zohar) equipped with thousands of passive and 34 active radiation detectors. The talk gives an overview of radiation levels encountered in space and provides an overview of the MARE experiment and a glimpse of the expected data as measured within the NASA Artemis I mission. It also highlights synergies between radiation research in space and Earth based cancer therapy applications.