ISS data lowers radiation risk for humans in space

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Good news: Data collected on ISS for the past decade now suggests that the human body does a better job of shielding its internal organs from space radiation than previously believed.

For an astronaut working inside the space station, the overestimate was about 15 percent — a fairly close correlation given that the station’s exterior shell provides much of the protection needed.

But for astronauts working outside the station, the radiation absorption measured was substantially less than what had been registered by the personal dosimeters worn by astronauts. “Measurements of a personal dosimeter dramatically overstate the exposure of an astronaut, in the worst case by a factor of three,” according to a summary of the results by a Euro-Russian team. “[I]n an outside exposure the self-shielding of the human body is very effective. … [T]he effective dose equivalent is less than 30 percent higher than in an inside exposure.”

In other words, humans could fly 30 percent longer in space with the present shielding and suffer far less exposure than expected. Though this data is for operations in low Earth orbit, it still provides a strong counter to the bad news recently released about the high amounts of dangerous radiation expected in interplanetary space due to the Sun’s recent low sunspot activity. Even if radiation levels are higher, the human body is more resilient than expected. Interplanetary space travel is still possible.


One comment

  • Max

    Okay, That’s reasonable to assume that since they use water to block radiation around nuclear reactors that our Water filled bodies and skin would absorb radiation to protect our internal organs.
    To protect astronauts in interplanetary travel, The living and working space should be Inside of a double walled capsule with water in between the walls. Water is part of the voyage so why not put it two extra good use as shielding. (It is understood for many years now this was the only way to survive a solar flare inbetween planets)
    It’s odd that the dose meter would pick up a factor of three (1000x) radiation over the top of what is actually being absorbed which is only 30% more than what’s inside the Space station. (Which is only 100% more then we receive here earth at sea level)
    It’s a good thing that the sun does not operate with fission or fusion or else interplanetary travel would be impossible. The earth would be irradiated lifeless with every rotation if it were.

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