Tag Archives: Radiation

DNA Experiment launched to ISS

The latest Falcon 9/Dragon resupply mission to ISS contains a small experiment to evaluate the effect of space radiation in a habitat on antibody encoding genes.  This goes directly to one of the Grand Challenges of space settlement.

Not only is the human immune system mildly suppressed by long stays in orbit, but the virulence of some bacterial diseases gets worse.  Also, medications and nutrients in food break down somewhat faster in orbit due to radiation.  This could lead to a cross-over where our immune systems would not cope well with spaceflight.

The secondary issue is the cause of these problems.  With the human body, microgravity is a major factor, along with radiation.  With medications and food, radiation is the only factor.  With bacterial virulence, it may be one or both.




ISS Inflatable Habitat Getting Radiation Experiment

NASA is setting up two radiation sensors within the Bigelow BEAM module on the ISS.  One will assess the radiation environment for comparison with the conventional aluminum structures used in the remainder of the space station.  The other sensor will have 3D printed plastic spheres placed around them of various thicknesses to see how well that plastic blocks radiation. 

Plastic structures are in some ways nearly ideal for cosmic ray protection.  Most plastics have relatively low mass and low atomic weight.  ​The plastic structures will be printed on board the ISS using the Made For Space 3D printer.  The BEAM habitat module has already shown itself to be as durable as the aluminum modules to minor collisions with orbital debris. 

REFERENCE:  Inflatable Space Habitat Passes First Hurdle.  Now on to Radiation Testing  (Ars Technica).​