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Posts Tagged ‘space flight’

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

NASA Celebrates 50 Years Of Planetary Exploration

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Fifty years ago on a mid-December day, NASA’s Mariner 2 spacecraft sailed close to the shrouded planet Venus, marking the first time any spacecraft had ever successfully made a close-up study of another planet. The flyby, 36 million miles (58 million kilometers) away from Earth, gave America its first bona fide space “first” after five years in which the Soviet Union led with several space exploration milestones. Designed and built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., the successful Mariner 2 spacecraft ushered in a new era of solar system exploration.

“JPL has always attempted to do mighty things on behalf of NASA and our nation,” said JPL director Charles Elachi. “Achieving America’s first ‘first in space’ is among the lab’s proudest achievements.”

In celebration of the anniversary, an interactive presentation highlighting 50 years of planetary exploration is available online.

Full Story: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/news.php?release=2012-395
Online Presentation: http://www.jpl.nasa.gov/50years/

Mars Missions May Learn From Meteor


Scientists have tried to find out how the planet’s environment came to contain methane gas, which contains carbon – a substance found in all living things.

They found that meteorites, which continually bombard the surface of Mars, contain enough carbon compounds to generate methane when they are exposed to sunlight.

Scientists planning future missions to Mars could use the findings to fine-tune their experiments, potentially making their trips more valuable.

Full Story: http://www.ed.ac.uk/news/all-news/300512-mars

NASA’s Deputy Administrator to Discuss Future of Commercial Spaceflight with Industry Representatives


WASHINGTON — NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver will participate in a teleconference on Thursday, May 17, at 2 p.m. EDT with representatives of the Commercial Spaceflight Federation to brief journalists on the future of human commercial spaceflight.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/may/HQ_M12-085_Garver_Comm_Spaceflight_Telecon.html

NASA Administrator Supports Apollo Engine Recovery


The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden regarding the efforts announced this week by Jeff Bezos to recover main engines from the Saturn V first stage rocket of Apollo 11:

“I would like to thank Jeff Bezos for his communication with NASA informing us of his historic find. I salute him and his entire team on this bold venture and wish them all the luck in the world.

“NASA does retain ownership of any artifacts recovered and would likely offer one of the Saturn V F-1 engines to the Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum in Washington under long-standing arrangements with the institution as the holder of the national collection of aerospace artifacts.

Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/mar/HQ_12-102_Bolden_Bezos_Ap_Eng.html