Protecting the NASA way

The space agency is developing technology that deflects harmful radiation

By Author  |  Published: 10th Aug 2019  7:05 pm
Building solutions

As NASA plans to return astronauts to the moon and ultimately send humans to Mars, teams across the space agency are working to build solutions for protecting the travellers from harmful radiation. Some teams are developing technology such as wearable vests and devices that add mass, and electrically charged surfaces that deflect radiation.

When NASA sends humans to the moon again, it would want them to stay there, unlike the Apollo mission 50 years ago. But, long-time exposure to space radiation may raise health risks, including cancer. Developing solutions for shielding astronauts from space radiation is, therefore, very crucial.

Scientists and engineers at NASA’s Johnson Space Center are developing a way to make use of the mass on board the Orion spacecraft to protect the crew who venture into deep space. NASA said Orion will be equipped with a radiation-sensing instrument integrated into the vehicle called the Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor (HERA), to provide a warning if crew members need to take shelter in case of a radiation event such as a solar flare.

To protect themselves, astronauts will position themselves in the central part of the crew module largely reserved for storing items they will need during flight and create a shelter using the stowage bags on board. Anywhere the astronauts go, the scientists at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will keep watch over their space environment. During a future Artemis mission, if a solar radiation squall were to occur while astronauts are beyond earth’s magnetic bubble, they might tell the crew to build a temporary shelter.