"We can now measure the exact space radiation": data from the far side of the Moon

The conquest of space It is, without any doubt, one of the great desires of the human being. Since time immemorial, our eyes have been directed towards the stars, with the aim of reaching other worlds in which we not only dream of finding life, but even serving as a settlement for humans in the not too distant future. Thus, the Moon has become an obsession for our species for almost a century And, now, the latest measurements taken on the far side of our satellite will serve to make space travel safer.

The mission of Apollo 11 It would be the first that managed to bring the human being to the surface of the Moon, specifically on July 20, 1969. Since then, several more missions, manned and unmanned, have reached our satellite with the aim of knowing it in greater depth, taking measurements of all kinds. Thus, the last mission to reach the Moon was led by the Chinese module Chang'e 4, which landed on January 3, 2019. Since then, this probe is carrying out a series of fundamental tests for future missions and, among them, the reason for the latest study: the space radiation.

A team consisting of Chinese and German scientists has carried out for the first time measurements of the Moon's surface radiation with temporal resolution, in a series of samples that confirm an approximate dose of 57 microsieverts per hour, as confirmed in the study published in the journal 'Science Advances'. According to the analyzes carried out through the Lunar Lander Neutron and Dosimetry (LND), the lunar surface harbors an equivalent dose of radiation of 1,369 microsieverts per day. To put it in context, on board the International Space Station the equivalent dose is 731 microsieverts per day.

These measurements are really important for space travel. Since they began to be carried out in the 1960s, scientists have known that the effects of space radiation on the human body can be devastating. Experts are aware that this is one of the main health risks for astronauts, and chronic exposure to cosmic rays can have long-term health effects such as suffering from any type of cancer, induction of cataracts or even degenerative diseases of the central nervous system. Therefore, it has now been achieved a really important approximation.

The measures taken by the LND make it possible to carry out the so-called calculation of equivalent dose. With this, it is possible to know the exact amount of space radiation that a human being will receive in an interstellar trip and, thus, have tailored suits with enough protection to avoid suffering health consequences. Of course, it is believed that the total radiation that our astronauts will receive on the Moon in a future trip will be less than 60 microsieverts / hour, since the construction of settlements with a lunar gift is being studied that would drastically reduce exposure, since this material offers additional armor to that of the suit.

"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. This is the reason why the measurements taken by the LND also will be used to review and develop more models that can be used for future missions. For example, if a manned mission goes out to Mars, the new findings allow us to reliably estimate anticipated radiation exposure in advance, "explained Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of the University of Kiel, whose team developed the LND, in a statement.

The LND, which landed on the opposite side of our satellite, is responsible for making measurements during the lunar day, turning off at night to save battery power. He was scheduled to carry out this work for a year, something he has now far exceeded. Once the measurements are obtained, it sends them to earth through the Queqiao satellite, in charge of the final transmission. It's about the most accurate measurement of lunar radiation ever carried out and that allows to make estimates in real time for future trips through space. A fundamental advance for the space race in the coming years.