Solar flares and solar particle events are the major contributor to space radiation, impacting all intra-solar system space flights but also our activity on Earth. With society now even more dependent on sophisticated technology, “big disturbances from the sun are potentially a very serious thing”.
“If we could predict space weather, we could shut down or isolate parts of the power grid, or shut down satellite systems that might be vulnerable.”
Solar Particle Events or SPE: Besides electromagnetic radiation, the Sun continuously emits particle radiation, mainly protons and electrons, the so-called solar wind. Its energy is so low that it is not of concern for radiation protection. However, occasionally the surface of the Sun releases large amounts of energy in sudden local outbursts of x rays and radio waves that accelerate solar matter into life threatening doses – Coronal Mass Events or CME. Intense SPE can be life threatening or induce acute radiation syndrome including nausea and possibly vomiting.
The goal of our work at EmTDLAb is to reduce the radiation risk for the crew to a level As Low As Reasonably Achievable (ALARA), down to the ideal case where the risk for radiation exposure in space is comparable to the one on Earth, not to affect the allowable mission duration.