How NASA Will Protect Astronauts From Space Radiation < English >

AUGUST 1972,

NASA ENGINEER, IAN RICHARDSON remembers it, was hot.

In Surrey, England, where he grew up, the fields were brown and dry, and people tried to stay out of the Sun, indoors and televisions on. But for several days that month, his TV picture kept breaking up. “Do not adjust your set,” he recalls the BBC announcing. “Heat isn’t causing the interference. It’s sunspots.” The same sunspots that disrupted the television signals led to enormous solar flares — powerful bursts of radiation from the Sun — Aug. 4-7 that year.

Between the Apollo 16 and 17 missions, the solar eruptions were a near miss for the lunar explorers from Apollo16 and 17.

Had they been in orbit or on the Moon’s surface, they would have sustained dangerous levels of solar radiation sparked by the eruptions.

Today, the Apollo-era flares serve as a reminder of the threat of radiation exposure for technology and astronauts in space. Understanding and predicting solar eruptions is crucial for safe space exploration.

Almost 50 years since those 1972 storms, the data, technology and resources available to NASA have improved, enabling advancements towards space weather forecasts and astronaut protection — key to NASA’s Artemis program to return astronauts to the Moon. Music credits: “Boreal Moment” by Benoit Scarwell [SACEM]; “Sensory Questioning”, “Natural Time Cycles”, “Emerging Designer”, and “Experimental Design” by Laurent Dury [SACEM]; “Superluminal” by Lee Groves [PRS], Peter George Marett [PRS] from Killer Tracks


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