Podcast #128: We chat with Kent C Dodds about why he loves React and discuss what life was like in the dark days before Git. Listen now.
72

Because shielding against radiation is heavy, and weight is the enemy of getting things into space. CPUs are quite sensitive to radiation, and some types of radiation (cosmic rays) are not only quite good at penetrating most things, as they do, they cause a cascade of secondary radiation. To protect a device form any of this radiation getting through is not ...


63

In addition to what Russell Borogove says about cumulative risk you're operating under a false assumption--that there was shielding on the Apollo capsules. Not only did the Apollo capsules not have shielding but shielding was considered undesirable. There are two main radiation threats in space: cosmic rays and solar flares. Their "defense" against solar ...


62

Radiation exposure is a cumulative risk. The more radiation you receive, the more likely you are to develop cancers. The Apollo missions took no more than two weeks to complete; the astronauts flying those missions accepted that dose of radiation with the health risks that come with it. A manned Mars mission will take, at minimum, months of travel. For ...


62

While cosmic radiation is a problem, it's the same as with radiation on Earth: the risk is cumulative. The levels were low enough that missions of 1-2 weeks at this level did not pose a big health risk, so no shielding was necessary. The big remaining problem was radiation from solar flares and CMEs. These produce so much radiation it wasn't possible to ...


54

In order to properly assess this, you need to take a few things into account: What are the typical exposure levels? How would Solar Storms be protected against? What kind of shielding do you need? Much of my answer to this was taken with help from The Case for Mars, by Robert Zubrin. First of all, let's start with the long term limits. As a starting point,...


48

They didn't, which is why the Apollo astronauts saw blinding flashes inside their eyes during the mission and then had a much higher probability of suffering from cataracts later in life. The flashes were from Cerenkov radiation passing though their eyeballs, occurring as often as 2 per minute on the Apollo missions. Of the 39 astronauts to suffer from ...


44

Apollo solved the cosmic radiation problem in a counter-intuitive manner: by minimizing shielding. Most cosmic rays are very-high-energy atomic nuclei; the rest are very-high-energy protons. When these particles strike something (eg. a sheet of aluminum), they generate a shower of secondary radiation. Any effective shield needs to be thick enough to both ...


37

The radiation dosage for a year on the moon is between 110 mSv and 380 mSv. On Earth, that dosage is 2.4 mSv, or higher, depending on where you are exactly. Bottom line, the few days in Lunar orbit would have aged the film due to radiation between 50-150 days/ day in orbit maximum, thus it would be the equivalent of film that was aged a few years at most. ...


25

We know from the nuclear power industry that spent fuel storage pools are pretty safe places to be around, radiation-wise. They're actually safe to swim in, to a point, because they're serviced routinely by human divers. They just can't get too close to the spent fuel. We use these pools for short-term storage because water is a really good radiation shield....


24

At first glance, the RTG does not pose a risk. It is powered by Pu-238, which is primarily an alpha emitter throughout its decay chain. Alpha particles can be stopped by a sheet of paper. An astronaut is perfectly safe in his suit, even if the RTG were disassembled and the Pu lying around unprotected. The RTG is built to survive a launch failure, i.e. it ...


22

Radiation can affect film - but bear in mind the radiation around Chernobyl was, truly, extremely high. The radiation in our region of space is not as extreme. Also bear in mind that the earlier Lunar Orbiter probes used film cameras, the pictures were developed and scanned automatically (by machinery on board) and the results transmitted to Earth. The ...


22

Yes, it absolutely would! The radiation on Europa is about 5.4 Sv (540 rem) of radiation per day. Looking at this guide, and assuming you want to meet OSHA standards of 5 rem per year, you would need to only allow 1 part in 40,000 of the base radiation to make it through. The website linked indicates you want a mass of about 375 pounds/square foot to only ...


20

The South Atlantic Anomaly is a region of high particle flux above the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil, caused by a slightly lower magnetic field above this point on the Earth. The problem it causes satellites is that above the anomaly, the magnetic field being weaker allows particles to get closer to the Earth. These particles can damage detectors ...


20

There's a pretty good Wikipedia page about it, which lists a couple of options: Water makes for fairly good radiation shielding (also discussed with land based radiation here), but is relatively heavy and is consumed during flight. Liquid hydrogen is also good, and is used as fuel, so it will already be on board. However, this too is consumed during flight....


20

In space (within the Solar system), you will get mostly two types of "radiation" that have health consequences: Photons of various energy, from long wave radio to gamma rays. High-energy charged particles, mostly electrons and protons ejected from the Sun upper atmosphere (this is known as the solar wind). Main source for these is, of course, the Sun. ...


19

NASA studied the effects of radiation on film. Bright spots are just one of the possible results. Other effects include an increase in the amount of noise, and a decrease in contrast and color response. These effects are not easily detectable to the untrained eye and without access to the original material. In this study, NASA also experimented with ...


17

No. Most International Space Station (ISS) spacewalks last in the order of several hours, often up to 8 hours during more difficult and time-consuming repairs and installations, and some nearly 9 hours*. And the station, in its roughly 93 minutes orbit is never in Earth's shadow for that long. There are both advantages as well as disadvantages to ...


16

The two specific modules are protected by two mechanisms: TeSS Polyethylene radiation protection tiles and bricks Water storage bags attached to the walls making a "water wall" High densities of hydrogen are good at radiation protection, and water is a good hydrogen source that needs to be stored on the ISS. Another good source of dense hydrogen is ...


16

If we have $O_2$ lighted with UV, we have actually many reactions working together: $O_2 + \gamma \rightarrow 2O$ $O_2 + O \rightarrow O_3$ $O_3 + \gamma \rightarrow O_2 + O$ $O + O_3 \rightarrow 2 O_2$ $O_3 + O_3 \rightarrow 3O_2$ $O + O \rightarrow O_2$ (1) produces nascent oxygen. This is slow, and its speed depends on the UV concentration. (2) builds ...


16

A satellite shielded by 3 mm of aluminium in an elliptic orbit (200 by 20,000 miles (320 by 32,190 km)) passing the radiation belts will receive about 2,500 rem (25 Sv) per year (for comparison, a full-body dose of 5 Sv is deadly). Almost all radiation will be received while passing the inner belt.[31] 25/365 = .07 5(Sv) / .07 = 71.2 So you have to spend ...


15

If we can limit the discussion to modern RTGs used for exploration probes, there really isn't much in the way of precautions. There are precautions to prevent launch failure, and then contamination of Earth's environment. But obviously you can stand next to them as long as the fuel is in solid ceramic form.         &...


15

Ultraviolet radiation does not get through the aluminum hull of the space station, so no such protection is needed for the crew inside. The glass of EVA suits is made not to let UV light through, either (http://history.nasa.gov/spacesuits.pdf). The same is true for the glass of the ISS' windows. So a random member of the ISS crew receives about as much UV ...


15

The basic idea here is to turn to have the shield you have towards the Sun. That does actually work, because the radiation from the Sun is directed, with a few exceptions: First, inside a planetary magnetosphere, charged particles are bent, and form radiation belts, for example the Van Allen belts. There, shielding is a bit more difficult. Secondly, that is ...


15

If you just stay here on Earth, you have an 18% chance of dying of cancer. Let's first consider a one-way trip, ignoring solar flares and radiation after you land. So just consider the cosmic rays, whose flux is pretty constant and which cannot be reasonably shielded against. If you go to Mars in six months, you'll get 0.3 sieverts, increasing your chance of ...


14

With respect to potential travel in our own solar system there are two general types of radiation that have our concern! The first type of radiation is solar radiation, which mostly consists of low- to intermediate-energy protons, electrons and x-rays from our own star. We would shield against the protons with low molecular mass materials. Typically ...


14

If it is more dangerous, how much more and in what ways? Proffesorfish and Eli Skolas have both given thoughtful answers comparing the hazards of I.S.S. vs Moonbase. If humans were preceded by robots to establish infra-structure, I believe a moonbase could be less hazardous. Radiation shielding from local resources could be added to Bigelow habs. At the ...


14

The Van Allen belt radiation was primarily shielded by the hull of the spacecraft, not the space suits. The electrons were mostly absorbed by the aluminium. Of the protons, however, some would penetrate the hull, and the flight path was chosen in such a way as to avoid the most intense radiation. On the Moon, there's no Van Allen belt radiation, so only ...


14

You actually ask a really good question. And the answer is, we do both, depending on the needs. NASA tends to go for the ultra-reliable, and radiation tolerant components are more reliable, thus it is their preferred way. Many commercial satellites, however, use non-space grade components that are shielded lightly, and with software and hardware built in a ...


13

This may sound strange, but part of the protection is a lack of shielding. The high-energy particles that make up a large portion of the radiation environment mostly just pass through the human body. They do, however, interact with traditional shielding materials (eg. lead) to produce secondary radiation that does affect humans. Because of this, light ...


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