Characterizing the Moon's radiation environment

Apr 09, 2013

The radiation environment near the Moon could be damaging to humans and electronics on future missions. To characterize this potentially hazardous environment, the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation (CRaTER) on board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter mission, which orbits at 50 kilometers (31 miles) above the Moon's surface, measures the radiation that would be absorbed by either electronic parts or human tissue behind the shielding of a spacecraft.

CRaTER has measured the lunar since 2009, during the recent solar minimum. The solar wind is less turbulent during solar minima and thus presents less of a barrier to incoming , so cosmic rays were at a high during that time period. Cosmic rays include various high energy particles, and they create a shower of secondary radiation upon impact with the Moon or a spacecraft's shielding.

Looper et al. ran simulations that model the response of the CRaTER sensor to various energetic particles. The simulations enabled the researchers to extract observations about the radiation environment from observations specific to the sensor. Looking at contributions from galactic cosmic rays, secondary particles, and sensor background, they were able to derive energy spectra for the radiation dose that humans or instruments would absorb in the lunar environment.

Explore further: Beastly sunspot amazes, heightens eclipse excitement

More information: Characterizing the Moon's radiation environment, Space Weather, doi: 10.1002/swe.20034, 2013. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/swe.20034/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Cosmic rays alter chemistry of lunar ice

Mar 19, 2012

Space scientists from the University of New Hampshire and multi-institutional colleagues report they have quantified levels of radiation on the moon's surface from galactic cosmic ray (GCR) bombardment that ...

Sun delivered curveball of powerful radiation at Earth

Feb 01, 2012

A potent follow-up solar flare, which occurred Friday (Jan. 17, 2012), just days after the Sun launched the biggest coronal mass ejection (CME) seen in nearly a decade, delivered a powerful radiation punch ...

Can solar flares hurt astronauts?

Jan 24, 2012

Solar flares, coronal mass ejections, high-energy photons, cosmic rays… space is full of various forms of radiation that a human wouldn’t want to be exposed to for very long. Energized particles ...

Curiosity's first daredevil stunt

Aug 03, 2012

(Phys.org) -- When Curiosity enters the Martian atmosphere on August 6th, setting in motion "the seven minutes of terror" that people around the world have anticipated since launch a year ago, the intrepid ...

Recommended for you

NASA creating a virtual telescope with two small spacecraft

9 minutes ago

Although scientists have flown two spacecraft in formation, no one ever has aligned the spacecraft with a specific astronomical target and then held that configuration to make a scientific observation—creating, ...

China launches first mission to moon and back

5 hours ago

China launched its first space mission to the moon and back early Friday, authorities said, the latest step forward for Beijing's ambitious programme to one day land a Chinese citizen on the Earth's only ...

User comments : 0