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New measurements show moon has hazardous radiation levels

SeattlePI.com Friday, 25 September 2020
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — Future moon explorers will be bombarded with two to three times more radiation than astronauts aboard the International Space Station, a health hazard that will require thick-walled shelters for protection, scientists reported Friday.

China’s lander on the far side of the moon is providing the first full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface, vital information for NASA and others aiming to send astronauts to the moon, the study noted.

A Chinese-German team reported on the radiation data collected by the lander — named Chang’e 4 for the Chinese moon goddess — in the U.S. journal Science Advances.

“This is an immense achievement in the sense that now we have a data set which we can use to benchmark our radiation" and better understand the potential risk to people on the moon, said Thomas Berger, a physicist with the German Space Agency's medicine institute.

Astronauts would get 200 to 1,000 times more radiation on the moon than what we experience on Earth — or five to 10 times more than passengers on a trans-Atlantic airline flight, noted Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany.

“The difference is, however, that we’re not on such a flight for as long as astronauts would be when they’re exploring the moon,” Wimmer-Schweingruber said in an email.

Cancer is the primary risk.

“Humans are not really made for these radiation levels and should protect themselves when on the moon,” he added.

Radiation levels should be pretty much the same all over the moon, except for near the walls of deep craters, Wimmer-Schweingruber said.

“Basically, the less you see of the sky, the better. That’s the primary source of the radiation,” he said.

Wimmer-Schweingruber said the...
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