In a few months, NASA will place two models in orbit around the moon. The goal: to study the effects of space radiation on astronauts.
If we put aside the technical challenges inherent in a long journey in space, the question of cosmic radiation is raised. It is a constant flow of high energy particles that flow almost at the speed of light. These rays are very harmful to humans. On our planet our atmosphere allows us to filter them. On the other hand, if we want to evolve sustainably in space, we will have to find a way to protect ourselves from it.
Two mannequins and a vest
In this sense the German Aerospace Center (DLR) recently developed two models, called Helga and Zohar, made from plastic mimicking human tissues and organs. These two busts are feminine insofar as, in space, women seem more exposed to the dangers of radiation than men.
One of these mannequins will be equipped with a vest called StemRad. Made from high density polyethylene, it has been specifically designed to protect astronauts from harmful radiation. It will also be thicker in the chest, bone marrow, ovaries and vital organs.
Note that polyethylene blocks are already used in US dormitories on the space station to protect astronauts. This matter is not new.
The other mannequin will not have a vest. Each of them will also be equipped with 5,600 sensors, which will allow researchers to compare their degree of exposure.
The Artemis mission
Helga and Zohar will be aboard an Orion capsule as part of the Artemis 1 mission. This one, unmanned, will aim to turn the moon and return. If successful, a first crew could then fly to perform the same maneuvers in 2022, as part of the mission Artemis 2. Then come the long-awaited Artemis 3 which will see a man and a woman set foot on the Moon in 2024.
In case of success of this first mission, the StemRad vest could be added to the new combinations of NASA. They will also be suitable for male use.