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More bad news on the danger to astronauts of space radiation

There’s more harmful radiation in space than previously thought, UNH study says https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/science/2018/03/15/radiation-could-cause-serious-long-term-health-effects-for-astronauts-study-says/XW1W77m   

Space travel just got even more complicated.

University of New Hampshire researchers recently concluded there’s at least 30 percent more dangerous radiation in our solar system than previously thought, which could pose a significant risk to both humans and satellites who venture there.

In their study, published Feb. 22 in the journal Space Weather, the researchers found that astronauts could experience radiation sickness or possibly more serious long-term health effects, including cancer and damage to the heart, brain, and central nervous system, said Nathan Schwadron, a space plasma physics professor at UNH and lead author of the study.

“Both concerns are very serious, but what we’re seeing in deep space is that over time, radiation seems to be getting worse,” Schwadron said.

Why is it getting worse? The sun’s activity has been low, the lowest it’s ever been during the Space Age, which began in 1957 with the launching of Sputnik, the world’s first satellite.

That’s bad because an active sun intensifies the sun’s magnetic field, which shields our solar system from cosmic rays, the university said in a statement.

“When we started sending human beings to the moon in the late 50s, the solar activity cycles were fairly strong, so the number of cosmic rays were lower,” Schwadron said. “But now the cosmic rays number is going up.”

Scientists expect the solar activity levels to vary, but they don’t know why the current activity is so weak, he said.

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March 17, 2018 - Posted by | 2 WORLD, radiation, technology

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