a lunar space station that will usher in a new era of scientific research – Madrid Deep Space Communications Complex

Much of the scientific studies that will initially be conducted on the Gateway space station orbiting the Moon will focus on radiation from the Sun and deep space.

A trio of radiation instruments aboard the Bridge, an important part of the artemis quests NASA will help scientists understand how to plan for the unpredictable space weather produced by the Sun and galactic cosmic rays from deep space that astronauts, spacecraft and hardware will encounter on their journey to the Moon and Mars.

Space weather poses a significant risk to human health and mission success during travel farther from Earth and for the protection of the magnetosphere and is a general term to describe fluctuating conditions in space caused by the Sun . It includes a continuous stream of particles and magnetic fields, known as solar windbursts of billions of tons of gas clouds called coronal mass ejections and flashes of ultra-bright light from the solar flares.

The gateway will operate in a nearly rectilinear halo orbit around the Moon, away from Earth’s protective atmosphere and magnetic fields that largely shield humans and even astronauts living on the International Space Station (in low Earth orbit) from weather and space radiation. The impacts of radiation on the human body will be much greater during missions to the Moon or to Mars, where exposure to high-energy charged particles can have adverse health effects, increased risk of cancer, changes motor function and behavior and tissue degeneration. They can also damage vehicles and equipment that astronauts depend on to live and travel safely in space.

The three Gateway instruments that will improve the knowledge of space weather scientists to help them understand the risks posed by radiation are the Heliophysical Radiation and Environmental Measurement Experiment Suite (HERMES), the European network of radiation sensors (ERSA) and the network of internal dosimeters (ALLER).

HERMES: Heliophysics Environmental and Radiation Measurement Experiment Suite (Conjunto de experimentos de medición de radiación y medio ambiente de heliofísica)

Led by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center (in Greenbelt, Maryland), HERMES will log outside the Gateway and catch a glimpse of what happens at the end of the magnetic tail Of the earth. This will allow NASA to compare its observations with two of the five spacecraft. THEMIS (Time History of Events and Macroscale Interactions), a pair of lunar orbiters carrying HERMES-type instruments. The ability to collect data simultaneously from all three instrument suites at different locations is a rare opportunity to reconstruct the behavior of the solar wind as it changes over time.

The science payload consists of four instruments mounted on the platform: a magnetometer to measure the magnetic fields around the bridge; the Miniaturized Electron pRoton Telescope (MERiT) to measure ions and electrons; the electrostatic electron analyzer (EEA) to measure the low-energy electrons that make up most of the solar wind; and the Solar Probe Analyzer for Ions (SPAN-I) to measure protons and ions such as oxygen. The magnetometer, MERiT and EEA are supplied by Goddard and SPAN-I is supplied by the University of California at Berkeley.

ERSA: European Radiation Sensors Array (Conjunto de sensores de radiación europeos)

Developed by the European Space Agency (ESA), ERSA will also fly outside the Gateway to study solar wind and deep space radiation. Equipped with five instruments, ERSA will measure energetic particles from the Sun, galactic cosmic rays, neutrons, ions and magnetic fields, and provide data on the physics of radiation in the solar system.

The package includes the Influence on Advanced Components of Radiation from Space (ICARE-NG) instrument, which will measure ionizing radiation that can create brief voltage spikes that can short out electronics. It also contains the European Active Dosimeter instrument, which will measure the energy deposited by radiation in living tissue to improve scientists’ understanding of human exposure to radiation.

IDA: Internal Dosimeter Array (Conjunto de dosímetro interno)

Also led by ESA, with scientific instruments provided by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), IDA will be installed inside the gateway to study the effects of radiation shielding and improve radiation physics models for cancer, effects on the cardiovascular system and central nervous system, helping to assess crew risk on exploration missions.

The IDA will be key in assessing how well the walkway structure shields the interior living volume from radiation, which is important as it is located within the HALO module (Housing and logistics outpost) from NASA, which will serve as the initial crew cabin for the astronauts. The array will allow direct comparison of internal and external radiation environments through instrumentation similar to ERSA.

The ability to study unpredictable space weather is one of the Gateway’s many benefits to enable sustained deep space exploration and research. The small space station will include docking ports for a variety of visiting spacecraft, space for the crew to live and work, and provide scientific research to study human health and life sciences, among other things. areas. The Gateway will be an essential platform for the development of technologies and capabilities to support future exploration of the Moon and Mars.

Among its many capabilities, the Gateway space station will facilitate studies of particle explosions and magnetic fields from the Sun that impact Earth’s magnetosphere, shown here, and cosmic rays from deep space.

Original news

Edition: R. Castro.

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