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Posts Tagged ‘cosmic radiation’

Massive Neutrinos Solve A Cosmological Conundrum

February 10, 2014 Leave a comment

Galaxy2-Cropped-445x124_smScientists have solved a major problem with the current standard model of cosmology by combining results from the Planck spacecraft and measurements of gravitational lensing to deduce the mass of ghostly sub-atomic particles called neutrinos.

The team, from the universities of Nottingham and Manchester, used observations of the Big Bang and the curvature of space-time to accurately measure the mass of these elementary particles for the first time.

The recent Planck spacecraft observations of the Cosmic Microwave Background (CMB) – the fading glow of the Big Bang – highlighted a discrepancy between these cosmological results and the predictions from other types of observations.

The CMB is the oldest light in the Universe, and its study has allowed scientists to accurately measure cosmological parameters, such as the amount of matter in the Universe and its age. But an inconsistency arises when large-scale structures of the Universe, such as the distribution of galaxies, are observed.

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Moon Radiation Findings May Reduce Health Risks To Astronauts


Space scientists from the University of New Hampshire (UNH) and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) report that data gathered by NASA’s Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO) show lighter materials like plastics provide effective shielding against the radiation hazards faced by astronauts during extended space travel. The finding could help reduce health risks to humans on future missions into deep space.

Aluminum has always been the primary material in spacecraft construction, but it provides relatively little protection against high-energy cosmic rays and can add so much mass to spacecraft that they become cost-prohibitive to launch.

Says Cary Zeitlin (lead author), “This is the first study using observations from space to confirm what has been thought for some time – that plastics and other lightweight materials are pound-for-pound more effective for shielding against cosmic radiation than aluminum. Shielding can’t entirely solve the radiation exposure problem in deep space, but there are clear differences in effectiveness of different materials.”

Full Story: http://www.eos.unh.edu/news/indiv_news.shtml?NEWS_ID=1391

SwRI-Led Team Calculates The Radiation Exposure Associated With A Trip To Mars


On November 26, 2011, the Mars Science Laboratory began a 253-day, 560-million-kilometer journey to deliver the Curiosity rover to the Red Planet. En route, the Southwest Research Institute-led Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) made detailed measurements of the energetic particle radiation environment inside the spacecraft, providing important insights for future human missions to Mars.

“In terms of accumulated dose, it’s like getting a whole-body CT scan once every five or six days,” said Dr. Cary Zeitlin, a principal scientist in SwRI’s Space Science and Engineering Division and lead author of Measurements of Energetic Particle Radiation in Transit to Mars on the Mars Science Laboratory, scheduled for publication in the journal Science on May 31.

“Understanding the radiation environment inside a spacecraft carrying humans to Mars or other deep space destinations is critical for planning future crewed missions,” Zeitlin said. “Based on RAD measurements, unless propulsion systems advance rapidly, a large share of mission radiation exposure will be during outbound and return travel, when the spacecraft and its inhabitants will be exposed to the radiation environment in interplanetary space, shielded only by the spacecraft itself.”

Full Story: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2013/rad.htm#.UagaCH4o5hF

UNH Scientists Provide Window On Space Radiation Hazards

October 16, 2012 Leave a comment

Astrophysicists from the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center (SSC) have created the first online system for predicting and forecasting the radiation environment in near-Earth, lunar, and Martian space environments. The near real-time tool will provide critical information as preparations are made for potential future manned missions to the moon and Mars.

“If we send human beings back to the moon, and especially if we’re able to go to Mars, it will be critical to have a system like this in place to protect astronauts from radiation hazards,” says associate professor of physics Nathan Schwadron of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space (EOS), which houses the SSC.

The website provides updates of the radiation environment on an hourly basis and archives the data weekly, monthly, and yearly. This historical record provides a clear picture of when a safe radiation dose limit is reached for skin or blood-forming organs, for example.

Full Story: http://www.eos.unh.edu/news/indiv_news.shtml?NEWS_ID=1347
PREDICCS Website: http://prediccs.sr.unh.edu/

Los Alamos Provides HOPE For Radiation Belt Storm Probes

August 31, 2012 Leave a comment

Los Alamos National Laboratory expertise in radiation detection and shielding is poised to help a national team of scientists better understand a mysterious region that can create hazardous space weather near our home planet.

The Helium Oxygen Proton Electron (HOPE) analyzer is one of a suite of instruments that was successfully launched today as part of the Radiation Belt Storm Probe mission—an effort by NASA and the Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory to gain insight into the Sun’s influence on Earth and near-Earth space by studying our planet’s radiation belt.

“Today we are boldly going where no spacecraft ever wants to go,” said plasma physicist Geoffrey Reeves of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Intelligence and Space Research Division. “We know we’re going into the riskiest of environments, so we’ve taken the greatest steps ensure the satellites can complete their mission.”

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University Of Iowa Instruments Aboard Twin NASA Spacecraft Set For Launch Aug. 24

August 22, 2012 1 comment

On Aug. 24, NASA will launch two identical satellites from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to begin its Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission to study the extremes of space weather and help scientists improve space weather forecasts.

Why should you care?

Because, says a University of Iowa space physics researcher, if you’ve ever used a cell phone, traveled by plane, or stayed up late to catch a glimpse of the northern lights, then you have been affected by space weather without even knowing about it.

Full Story: http://now.uiowa.edu/2012/08/ui-instruments-aboard-twin-nasa-spacecraft-set-launch-aug-24

NASA Radiation Belt Storm Probes To Launch, UNH Components Aboard

August 21, 2012 1 comment

At 4:07 a.m. Friday, August 24, NASA’s twin Radiation Belt Storm Probes are scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida on a two-year mission to investigate Earth’s hazardous radiation belt environment as never before. On board both spacecraft will be a host of scientific hardware and software from teams at the University of New Hampshire’s Space Science Center (SSC).

Harlan Spence, director of the UNH Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space, is lead scientist or “principal investigator” of the Energetic Particle, Composition, and Thermal Plasma (ECT) instrument suite on the twin spacecraft, and Roy Torbert, director of the SSC, is a co-investigator on the Electric and Magnetic Field Instrument Suite and Integrated Science (EMFISIS) experiment.

Collectively, the mission’s five instrument suites will make the most precise measurements to date of the high-energy particles and magnetic and electric fields and waves in this near-Earth region of space where “space weather” occurs and hundreds of spacecraft operate.

Full Story: http://www.eos.unh.edu/news/indiv_news.shtml?NEWS_ID=1332