First Orion flight will assess radiation risk as NASA thinks about human Mars missions

First Orion flight will assess radiation risk as NASA thinks about human Mars missions
The Mars Society’s prototype Mars habitat in Utah. Image Credit: Mars Society MRDS

If you wanna get humans to Mars, there are so many technical hurdles in the way that it will take a lot of hard work. How to help people survive for months on a hostile surface, especially one that is bathed on radiation? And how will we keep those people safe on the long journey there and back?

NASA is greatly concerned about the , and is asking the public for help in a new challenge as the agency measures radiation with the forthcoming uncrewed Orion test flight in December. There's $12,000 up for grabs across at least a few awards, providing you get your ideas into the agency by Dec. 12.

"One of the major human health issues facing future space travelers venturing beyond low-Earth orbit is the hazardous effects of (GCRs)," NASA wrote in a press release.

"Exposure to GCRs, immensely high-energy radiation that mainly originates outside the solar system, now limits mission duration to about 150 days while a mission to Mars would take approximately 500 days. These charged particles permeate the universe, and exposure to them is inevitable during space exploration."

Here's an interesting twist, too—more data will come through the Orion test flight as the next-generation spacecraft aims for a flight 3,600 miles (5,800 kilometers) above Earth's surface. That's so high that the vehicle will go inside a high-radiation environment called the Van Allen Belts, which only the Apollo astronauts passed through in the 1960s and 1970s en route to the Moon.

While a flight to Mars will also just graze this area briefly, scientists say the high-radiation environment will give them a sense of how Orion (and future spacecraft) perform in this kind of a zone. So the spacecraft will carry sensors on board to measure overall levels as well as "hot spots" within the vehicle.

First Orion flight will assess radiation risk as NASA thinks about human Mars missions
Orion in orbit in this artists concept. Credit: NASA

Explore further

Radiation monitors tested on space station to fly on Orion

More information: www.nasa.gov/content/nasa-inno … ssions/#.VG9GeJDF_SZ
Source: Universe Today
Citation: First Orion flight will assess radiation risk as NASA thinks about human Mars missions (2014, November 21) retrieved 5 December 2020 from https://phys.org/news/2014-11-orion-flight-nasa-human-mars.html
This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.
0 shares

Feedback to editors

User comments