Australian news, and some related international items

NASA astronaut warns on radiation, opposes monkey testing

Radiation is the single biggest threat to the health of astronauts.

Space Station Living, Radiation and Monkeys Former NASA astronaut Leroy Chaio discusses his personal space radiation experiences and why monkeys shouldn’t be our guinea pigs. Discovery, Oct 14, 2010 THE GIST

  • Radiation is the single biggest threat to the health of astronauts.
  • The radiation risk increases when traveling beyond low-Earth orbit.
  • Ex-NASA astronaut Leroy Chiao believes more work is needed to understand the risks, but monkeys needn’t be tested……

Radiation is the single biggest threat to astronaut health in long duration flight. This is especially true for flights that would occur away from the Van Allen Radiation Belts, which offer significant protection to all of us, safely cocooned in its warm embrace down here on the Earth’s surface.

Even in Low Earth Orbit (LEO), astronauts are still protected to a large degree from charged particles. The heavy artillery still gets through (gamma rays, neutrons, some protons), but the electrons and other charged ions are caught in the Earth’s geomagnetic field. Astronauts who ventured to the moon were outside of the belts, as would be astronauts who travel to Near Earth Objects (NEOs), Lagrange Points or any other far-off destination (Mars, anyone?). In this case, the radiation from a surprise solar flare could be fatal. NASA worried quite a bit about that possibility during the Apollo program in the 1960’s and 70’s……….

Leroy Chiao served as a NASA astronaut from 1990-2005. During his 15-year career, he flew four missions into space, three times on space shuttles and once as the copilot of a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to the International Space Station. On that flight, he served as the commander of Expedition 10, a six-and-a-half-month mission. Dr. Chiao has performed six spacewalks, in both U.S. and Russian spacesuits, and has logged nearly 230 days in space. He was a member of the Review of U.S. Human Spaceflight Plans Committee, and is currently an Executive Vice President of Excaibur Almaz, a private commercial space venture.

Space Station Living, Radiation and Monkeys : Discovery News

October 15, 2010 - Posted by | Uncategorized | ,

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