Is the moon too dangerous for stay? Researchers have their say

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Astronaut on Moon
Representational Image

Critical data published by Chinese-German scientists on the U.S. journal, Science Advances has provided definitive evidence on the life-threatening radiation levels on the surface of the moon. 

Data which was collected by Chinese lander Chang’e 4 revealed that future manned-mission to the satellite will have to tackle two to three times more radiation than astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

Chang’e 4 which is stationed at the far side of the moon has been providing vital information for global space agencies such as NASA and ESA who are preparing to conduct manned-missions to the moon as early as 2024.

Speaking about the first full measurements of radiation exposure from the lunar surface by a probe, Thomas Berger, a physicist with the German Space Agency’s medicine institute stated that “This is an immense achievement in the sense that now we have a data set which we can use to benchmark our radiation.”

Prof. Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber of Christian-Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany pointed out that astronauts on the moon are expected to be bombarded with 200 to 1,000 times more radiation on the moon than what we experience on Earth. Compared to passengers on a trans-Atlantic airline flight, the levels would be five to 10 times higher.

“Humans are not really made for these radiation levels and should protect themselves when on the moon,” Prof. added.

Prof Wimmer-Schweingruber highlighted that the radiations on the moon as almost the same everywhere other than near deep crates and the best way to stay away from them is to not under the open sky, the primary source of the radiations.

Kerry Lee, a space radiation expert at Johnson Space Center in Houston stated that the measurements of the probe almost exact to what was available with NASA through its detector on an orbiter that has been circling the moon for more than a decade.

“It is nice to see confirmation of what we think and our understanding of how radiation interacts with the moon is as expected,” said Lee, who was not involved in the Chinese-led study.

These details follow an earlier update from the United States of America of putting a man and a woman on the moon in 2024. This time the mission is expected to have a lengthier stay, more than twice as long as the Apollo crews did a half-century ago.

In the future, expeditions would last one to two months once a base camp is established on the moon’s surface. NASA is also working on putting a man on Mars in the 2030s.