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Protecting Spacefarers from Heavy Nuclei

29 Aug 2016, 22:56 UTC
Protecting Spacefarers  from Heavy Nuclei
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Neil Armstrong on the surface of the Moon (Credit: NASA)In July of 2016, researchers on the health of NASA astronauts dropped a bombshell concerning the cardiovascular mortality of the Apollo Lunar astronauts. Despite the enhanced levels of radiation exposure by astronauts at LEO and beyond LEO, there were no indications of increased levels of cancer for space faring astronauts relative to people living on Earth. The research also showed no significant increase in cardiovascular deaths (the leading cause of death for Americans) relative to people living on the Earth's surface. Surprisingly, the research did reveal that the frequency of cardiovascular deaths of Apollo Lunar astronauts was four to five times higher than in LEO astronauts and in NASA astronauts that have yet to have the opportunity to fly into space.Although astronauts are exposed to enhanced levels of radiation beyond the Earth's magnetosphere, astronauts at LEO are completely shielded from the most lethal component of cosmic radiation, heavy nuclei (heavy ions), most of the time. Cosmic radiation beyond the Earth's surface (Annual levels) Low Earth Orbit (LEO): 20 Rem (solar maximum) to 40 Rem (solar minimum) Interplanetary Space: 28 Rem (solar maximum) to 73 Rem (solar minimum) Surface of the Moon: ...

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