Bizarre Experiments To Protect Astronauts In Space From Radiation Exposure

First Posted: Feb 18, 2017 04:21 AM EST

During their stay in the International Space Station (ISS), the astronauts risk exposure to high-energy cosmic radiations, which can damage their cells and alter their genetic material for generations to come. Space agencies have been and are working on extremely weird phantom experiments that can estimate the nature and impact of these radiations. The Phantom Torso experiment and the recently launched radiation protection experiments by the German and Israeli space agencies are a few of them.

Being an astronaut is very cool. Getting launched in rockets, living in zero gravity, traveling in space, all looks extremely chic. But most often people forget about the potentially dangerous and life-threatening conditions the astronauts are exposed to. Exposure to high-energy cosmic radiations is one of the most potential dangers that the astronauts in space are exposed to. NASA has been trying to study the nature and intensity of the radiations emitted during solar flares to access the impact on the astronauts.

In one such experiment, the NASA Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope started monitoring the levels of high-energy gamma rays in space, National Geographic reported.

Other experiments that can estimate the exact impact of the radiations on human body have already been or are on the pipeline to be launched. One of the oldest of such experimental approaches is the Phantom Torso Experiment launched in 2001. A limbless dummy model, with 350 sensors fitted inside its torso or placed adjacent to it was stationed inside the U.S. Destiny Lab of the International Space Station. The sensors helped in finding out that neutrons are the most potentially dangerous particles in the cosmic rays, which can damage human cells and tissues, Curiosity reported.

According to DLR, one of the most recent approaches towards the radation protection program for astronauts in space was initiated after the German Aerospace Center and the Israeli Space Agency signed an MoU in the recently held 12 International Ilan Ramon Space Conference. The project involves the production of a radiation protection vest for the astronauts in space, which will be tested on human phantom doll named "Matroshka."

The Matroshka doll wearing the vest will be sent to space in unmanned Orion spacecraft mission in 2018. It is to further test the efficacy of the vest in providing radiation protection.

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