- The researchers determined that the surface of the moon is highly radioactive due to a combination of factors.
- The surface of the moon is two to three times more radioactive than the International Space Station, and its radioactivity reaches 1,000 times that of the Earth’s surface.
- The data was collected by the Chinese mission that landed on the far side of the moon.
NASA and other space agencies around the world are planning to send humans to the moon sooner rather than later, but safety, as always, should be a top priority. We already know that radiation in space is a serious concern, but new data reveals just how much radioactive the moon’s surface is.
Researchers are also writing in a new paper in the journal Science AdvancesThe level of radiation on the surface of the Moon is three times that of the International Space Station, and it is already a high level compared to the surface of the Earth.
The data was collected by the Chinese mission to the far side of the moon, which sent a lander and rover there, to complete a smooth landing on the far side for the first time in history. This mission, which accomplished a number of “firsts” not only for the Chinese space program but for humanity in general, also took readings of radiation exposure on the surface of the moon.
There has been much talk of creating temporary or possibly permanent structures on the moon in order to facilitate continued scientific progress. At the moment, there are no concrete plans to build settlements on the moon, but we don’t really know what the future holds. Now, with accurate measurements of the radiation from the surface, scientists have a better idea of what space travelers should prepare for once they arrive.
Radiation is a very big problem. As we already know, radiation can greatly increase the risk of cancer, and long space trips to places like Mars would put travelers in grave danger just because they are in space and not under the protection of the Earth’s bubble. The stakes in staying on the lunar surface appear to be greater, which could complicate any long-term residency plans on the surface.
Compared to Earth, astronauts traveling to the moon would have to withstand up to 1,000 times the radiation we see on Earth. This is very important, even for short-term stays, and it is a factor that has not been well explained. The radiation comes as a mixture of radiation coming from space in the form of cosmic rays and solar radiation in addition to the interaction of this radiation with the surface of the moon.
There are ways to protect passengers from radiation, of course, including the possibility of more powerful landing craft designed to provide radiation protection. However, the more radiation protection the spacecraft is, the more likely it is to become heavier. There has been some discussion about using extinct lava tubes on the moon to protect astronauts from radiation coming from space. It’s unclear how much protection it will provide in light of this new study, but it could be important.