Chinese and German scientists have made for the first time radiation measurements in the La time-resolved, showing an equivalent dose rate of approximately 60 microsieverts per hour.
In comparison, on a long-haul flight from Frankfurt to New York, it is 5 to 10 times lower and on the ground more than 200 times lower, as published in the magazine ‘Science Advances’.
In the coming years and decades, various nations want to explore the Moon and plan send astronauts there again for this purpose. But on our inhospitable satellite, space radiation poses a significant risk.
The Apollo astronauts took with them the called dosimeters, who made rudimentary measurements of total radiation exposure during their entire expedition to the moon and vice versa. He ‘Lunar Lander Neutron and Dosimetry’ (LND) was developed and built at the University of Kiel, on behalf of the Space Administration of the German Aerospace Center (DLR), with funding from the Federal Ministry of Economy and Energy (BMWi).
The measurements taken by the LND allow the calculation of the so-called equivalent dose. This is important for estimating the biological effects of space radiation on humans. “The radiation exposure we have measured it’s a good benchmark for radiation inside an astronaut suit “explains Thomas Berger from the German Aerospace Center in Cologne, a co-author of the publication.
Since astronauts would be on the moon much longer than passengers flying to New York and vice versa, this represents considerable exposure to humans, alert in a statement Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber, from the University of Kiel, whose team developed and built the instrument.
“Humans are not made to resist space radiation. However, astronauts can and should protect themselves as much as possible during longer stays on the moon, for example, covering their habitat with a thick layer of lunar soil“, Explain.
“During prolonged stays on the Moon, the risk that astronauts develop cancer and other diseases it could thus be reduced, “adds co-author Christine Hellweg of the German Aerospace Center. The measurements were taken on board the Chinese lunar lander ‘Chang’e-4’, which landed on the opposite side of the moon on January 3, 2019.
The Kiel device takes measurements during lunar “daylight” and, like all other scientific equipment, shuts down during the very cold, nearly two-week-long lunar night, to save battery power. The device and lander were programmed to take measurements for at least one year, and they have already exceeded this goal. Data from the device and lander is transmitted to Earth via the Queqiao relay satellite, which is located behind the moon.
The data obtained also have some relevance with respect to future interplanetary missions. Since the moon has neither a protective magnetic field nor an atmosphere, the radiation field on the surface of the moon is similar to that of interplanetary space, apart from the shield of the moon itself.
“This is why the measurements taken by the LND will also be used to review and develop more models that can be used for future missions. For example, if a manned mission goes to Mars, the new findings allow us to reliably estimate anticipated radiation exposure in advance. That is why it is important that our detector also allows us to measure the composition of the radiation, “says Wimmer-Schweingruber.