Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

SwRI scientists publish first radiation measurements from the surface of Mars

10.12.2013
In the first 300 days of the Mars Science Laboratory surface mission, the Curiosity rover cruised around the planet’s Gale Crater, collecting soil samples and investigating rock structures while the onboard Radiation Assessment Detector made detailed measurements of the radiation environment on the surface of Mars.

“Our measurements provide crucial information for human missions to Mars,” said Dr. Don Hassler, a Southwest Research Institute program director and RAD principal investigator. Hassler is the lead author of “Mars’ Surface Radiation Environment Measured with the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover,” scheduled for publication in the journal Science online on December 9, 2013.

“We’re continuing to monitor the radiation environment, and seeing the effects of major solar storms on the surface and at different times in the solar cycle will give additional important data. Our measurements also tie into Curiosity’s investigations about habitability. The radiation sources that are of concern for human health also affect microbial survival as well as the preservation of organic chemicals.”

Two forms of radiation pose potential health risks to astronauts: a chronic low dose of galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) and the possibility of short-term exposures to the solar energetic particles (SEPs) associated with solar flares and coronal mass ejections. The radiation on Mars is much harsher than on Earth for two reasons: Mars lacks a global magnetic field and the Martian atmosphere is much thinner than Earth’s, providing little shielding to the surface.

This environmental factor poses a challenge for future human exploration of Mars and is also important in understanding both geological and potential biological evolution on Mars. Both GCRs and SEPs interact with the atmosphere and, if energetic enough, penetrate into the Martian soil, or regolith, where they produce secondary particles that contribute to the complex radiation environment on the Martian surface, which is unlike anything on Earth.

“The RAD surface radiation data show an average GCR dose equivalent rate of 0.67 millisieverts per day from August 2012 to June 2013 on the Martian surface,” said Hassler. Radiation dose is measured in units of sievert (Sv) or millisievert (1/1000 Sv). “In comparison, RAD data show an average GCR dose equivalent rate of 1.8 millisieverts per day on the journey to Mars, when RAD measured the radiation inside the spaceship.”

According to RAD data, most mission radiation exposure will be during outbound and return travel, when the astronauts will be exposed to the radiation environment in interplanetary space, shielded only by the spacecraft itself. The total during just the transit phases of a Mars mission would be approximately 0.66 Sv for a round trip with current propulsion systems and during similar solar activity. A 500-day mission on the surface would bring the total exposure to around 1 Sv.

Long-term population studies have shown that exposure to radiation increases a person’s lifetime cancer risk; exposure to a dose of 1 Sv is associated with a five percent increase in fatal cancer risk. Although NASA has generally established a three percent increased risk of fatal cancer as an acceptable career limit for astronauts in low earth orbit, it does not currently have a limit for deep space missions, and is working with the National Academies Institute of Medicine to determine appropriate limits for deep space missions, such as a mission to Mars in the 2030s.

SwRI, together with Christian Albrechts University in Kiel, Germany, built RAD with funding from the NASA Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Germany’s national aerospace research center, Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, Calif., manages the Mars Science Laboratory Project. The NASA Science Mission Directorate, at NASA Headquarters in Washington, manages the Mars Exploration Program.

"Mars’ Surface Radiation Environment Measured with the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover,” published in Science online December 9, was written by Hassler, Cary Zeitlin of SwRI, Robert F. Wimmer-Schweingruber of Christian Albrechts University, Bent Ehresmann of SwRI, Scot Rafkin of SwRI, Jennifer L. Eigenbrode of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center, David E. Brinza of JPL, Gerald Weigle of SwRI, Stephan Böttcher of Christian Albrechts University , Eckart Böhm of Christian Albrechts University, Soenke Burmeister of Christian Albrechts University, Jingnan Guo of Christian Albrechts University, Jan Köhler of Christian Albrechts University, Cesar Martin of Christian Albrechts University, Guenther Reitz of German Aerospace Center in Cologne, Germany, Francis A. Cucinotta of University of Nevada Las Vegas, Myung-Hee Kim of Universities Space Research Association, David Grinspoon of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, Mark A. Bullock of SwRI, Arik Posner of NASA, Javier Gómez-Elvira of Centro de Astrobiología in Madrid, Spain, Ashwin Vasavada of JPL, and John P.Grotzinger of JPL, and the MSL Science Team.

Editors:

Images to accompany this story are available at: http://www.swri.org/press/2013/mars-measurements.htm.

For more information, contact Deb Schmid, (210) 522-2254, Communications Department, Southwest Research Institute, PO Drawer 28510, San Antonio, TX 78228-0510.

Deb Schmid | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.swri.org
http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2013/mars-measurements.htm#.Uqbw_lgwfcs

More articles from Earth Sciences:

nachricht Novel method for investigating pore geometry in rocks
17.06.2018 | Kyushu University, I2CNER

nachricht Decades of satellite monitoring reveal Antarctic ice loss
14.06.2018 | University of Maryland

All articles from Earth Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: AchemAsia 2019 will take place in Shanghai

Moving into its fourth decade, AchemAsia is setting out for new horizons: The International Expo and Innovation Forum for Sustainable Chemical Production will take place from 21-23 May 2019 in Shanghai, China. With an updated event profile, the eleventh edition focusses on topics that are especially relevant for the Chinese process industry, putting a strong emphasis on sustainability and innovation.

Founded in 1989 as a spin-off of ACHEMA to cater to the needs of China’s then developing industry, AchemAsia has since grown into a platform where the latest...

Im Focus: First real-time test of Li-Fi utilization for the industrial Internet of Things

The BMBF-funded OWICELLS project was successfully completed with a final presentation at the BMW plant in Munich. The presentation demonstrated a Li-Fi communication with a mobile robot, while the robot carried out usual production processes (welding, moving and testing parts) in a 5x5m² production cell. The robust, optical wireless transmission is based on spatial diversity; in other words, data is sent and received simultaneously by several LEDs and several photodiodes. The system can transmit data at more than 100 Mbit/s and five milliseconds latency.

Modern production technologies in the automobile industry must become more flexible in order to fulfil individual customer requirements.

Im Focus: Sharp images with flexible fibers

An international team of scientists has discovered a new way to transfer image information through multimodal fibers with almost no distortion - even if the fiber is bent. The results of the study, to which scientist from the Leibniz-Institute of Photonic Technology Jena (Leibniz IPHT) contributed, were published on 6thJune in the highly-cited journal Physical Review Letters.

Endoscopes allow doctors to see into a patient’s body like through a keyhole. Typically, the images are transmitted via a bundle of several hundreds of optical...

Im Focus: Photoexcited graphene puzzle solved

A boost for graphene-based light detectors

Light detection and control lies at the heart of many modern device applications, such as smartphone cameras. Using graphene as a light-sensitive material for...

Im Focus: Water is not the same as water

Water molecules exist in two different forms with almost identical physical properties. For the first time, researchers have succeeded in separating the two forms to show that they can exhibit different chemical reactivities. These results were reported by researchers from the University of Basel and their colleagues in Hamburg in the scientific journal Nature Communications.

From a chemical perspective, water is a molecule in which a single oxygen atom is linked to two hydrogen atoms. It is less well known that water exists in two...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

Munich conference on asteroid detection, tracking and defense

13.06.2018 | Event News

2nd International Baltic Earth Conference in Denmark: “The Baltic Sea region in Transition”

08.06.2018 | Event News

ISEKI_Food 2018: Conference with Holistic View of Food Production

05.06.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

A sprinkle of platinum nanoparticles onto graphene makes brain probes more sensitive

15.06.2018 | Materials Sciences

100 % Organic Farming in Bhutan – a Realistic Target?

15.06.2018 | Ecology, The Environment and Conservation

Perovskite-silicon solar cell research collaboration hits 25.2% efficiency

15.06.2018 | Power and Electrical Engineering

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>