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New measurements on the moon show harmful radiation levels

New measurements show that radiation levels on the moon are two to three times higher than those of the International Space Station.

The measurements were made by an instrument on China’s Chang’e-4 lunar lander. The spacecraft landed on the opposite side of the moon in January 2019.

German and Chinese scientists involved in the experiment say the Chinese lander provided the first “active” measurements of the radiation levels on the moon’s surface. The findings were recently reported in a study in the publication Advances in science.

The study comes as the United States and several other countries develop plans to send astronauts to explore the moon. The US space agency NASA has a goal to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024 as part of its Artemis program. It also wants to create a long-term base on the moon by 2028.

But space radiation poses serious health risks to future astronauts. Cancer is the main health concern, but radiation exposure it can also lead to other diseases.

NASA has already warned that space travelers who spend long periods in places like the Moon or Mars will face high levels of harmful radiation.

Earth and magnetic atmosphere shield protect humans from the extreme radiation present in the universe. But astronauts aboard the International Space Station receive more than 1

0 times the radiation we receive on Earth.

The new study suggests that radiation exposure on the moon would be 2.6 higher than that on the International Space Station. The researchers said astronauts on the moon would receive about 200 times more radiation than we experience on Earth.

Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber is an astrophysicist at the University of Kiel in Germany. He helped guide the research. He told French news agency AFP, the discovery led his team to predict that astronauts would only be able to stay on the moon for about two months under current conditions.

“Humans are not made for these levels of radiation and should protect themselves when on the moon,” said Wimmer-Schweingruber.

He added that the radiation levels should be more or less the same in all areas of the moon, except near the deep walls. craters. “Basically, the less you see the sky, the better,” he said.

Researchers have suggested that astronauts could build shelters made of lunar soil to protect themselves during stays of more than a few days. They said the walls of the shelters should have been at least 80 centimeters thick. A wall thicker than that, they said, could cause dirt to emit its own secondary radiation. Such radiation is created when Cosmic rays to interact with the lunar soil.

NASA has said it will have radiation detectors and a safe haven on all his crew spacecraft flying to the moon.

Thomas Berger is a physicist at the German Space Agency’s Institute of Medicine. He also took part in the study. He called the results of the experiment “immense. “The method finally provides scientists with a” dataset “that can be used to effectively measure radiation and study its effects on humans, Berger said.

The radiation levels described in the study are similar to the levels already predicted by the models. Kerry Lee is a space radiation expert at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Lee said the measurements “almost exactly agree” with those made by a detector on a NASA orbiter that has circled the moon for more than 10 years.

“It’s nice to see confirmation of what we think and that our understanding of how radiation interacts with the moon is as expected,” Lee said.

I’m Bryan Lynn.

Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English, based on reports from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, Science Advances and Kiel University. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in this story

exposuren. get in touch with something

shieldn. an object used to protect something

cratern. a large round hole in the ground created by a bomb exploding or something falling from the sky

cosmic ray – n. high-energy particles that move in space at almost the speed of light

detector n. a device that helps to notice something that is hidden or unclear

immense adj. extremely good

to interact – v. with whom to communicate or react

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