Physikalisches Kolloquium: Dr. Jingnan Guo (Kiel University)

Understanding the Heliospheric Radiation Environment in Preparation for Human Explorations to Mars

12.02.2019 ab 16:15

Leibnizstr. 13, 24118 Kiel, Hans-Geiger Hörsaal



Potential radiation damage to astronauts induced by Solar Energetic Particles (SEPs) and Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) in space is one of the most important risks for future human space missions, especially interplanetary missions such as to Mars which requires a long mission duration of at least 2-3 years. To evaluate such radiation risks for deep space missions, in particular in preparation for future human explorations to Mars, the Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) was designed to detect and analyze the most biologically hazardous energetic particle radiation during the cruise to Mars and on the Martian surface as part of the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) mission.

MSL was launched on November 26, 2011 and landed on Mars on August 6, 2012 after a 253-day, 560-million-kilometer cruise. During most of the cruise phase, RAD made detailed measurements of the cosmic ray (including SEPs and GCRs) radiation environment inside the spacecraft traveling through the space. The day after MSL's landing, RAD was switched back on and started making first-ever measurements of the cosmic ray induced energetic particle radiation environment on surface of Mars and has been collecting data for more than six years, approximately three years, since then. Both the deep-space radiation environment inside the spacecraft and the radiation field on Mars measured by RAD provide insight into the radiation hazards that be associated with a human mission to Mars and give indications of possible risk mitigation for future human explorations to the red planet.

this talk, we review the RAD measurements since the launch of MSL and discuss the main results including (1) RAD measured cruise phase radiation environment and its (2) the Martian surface spectra and flux of energetic particles (both charged and neutral) detected by RAD and the validation of particle transport models based on these measurements, (3) the absorbed dose and dose equivalent rate from GCRs detected on Mars' surface and their time evolution influenced by both the atmospheric changes and heliospheric dynamics, and finally (4) the detected SEP events and their potential radiation risks.

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