Space Research

Radiation environment in space getting far more intense than expected

A new study has found that there’s at least 30 per cent more dangerous cosmic radiation in the solar system than previously thought.

It has long been known that exposure to space radiation is quite dangerous and can even result in serious implications on astronauts’ health as well as on proper functioning of satellite technology. The new study by scientists at University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center reveals that radiation dose rates measured over the last four years have exceeded trends from previous solar cycles to around 30 percent, which means the radiation environment is getting far more intense.

Nathan Schwadron, the lead author of this study, explains that the particle radiation conditions present important environmental factors for space travel and space weather. So, radiation condition must be carefully studied and accounted for while planning and designing future space missions to asteroids, moon, Mars, and beyond.

Notably, Schwadron and his team had predicted a 20 percent rise in cosmic radiations back in 2014. But, the new study has found that the current space conditions have exceeded the prediction by 10 percent.

The research team also found that there’s a dramatic rise in the production of Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) in the space. They analyzed data from CRaTER on NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) to conclude that the doses of Galactic Cosmic Rays are increasing faster than expected.

The team even pointed out the Solar Energetic Particle (SEP) events that took place in September 2017 during which large doses of radiation were released that could pose a significant risk to both humans and satellites.

The researchers have warned that unshielded astronauts could experience adverse health effects due to deteriorating radiation environment like radiation sickness or more serious long-term health issues like cancer and organ damage, including to the heart, brain, and central nervous system.

The study report is published in the journal Space Weather.

About the author

Megha Kedia

Megha Kedia

Megha is a seasoned reporter with over six years of experience covering news in technology, science and related fields. At The Space News, Megha covers space research & technology news.

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