Space radiation is very dangerous. Exposure to it could pose risk to life. Space radiation has a sufficient amount of energy that can affect the DNA and cause damages to a cell. This can lead to a series of serious health problems and its effects could be experienced in a long term. Therefore, astronauts need to shield themselves from space radiation when they are in space. To protect astronauts from the risk of exposure to radiation at the International Space Station, NASA has developed a technique that will protect the rotating laboratory from harmful rays. The ISS experiences radiation as it flies in the low Earth orbit. Notably, the space radiation is greater at higher latitudes.
The ISS is inclined nearly 51 degrees as it circles the Earth. It is exposed to more radiation than space shuttles. A space shuttle flies at 28 degrees and faces less radiation than the ISS. NASA researchers said that the new technique will help in predicting the radiation risk while planning future space missions. Researchers said that there are three main sources of space radiation. They originate from particles shot during solar flares; that are trapped in the magnetic field of Earth, and galactic cosmic rays generated outside the solar system. Researchers are studying how ISS astronauts’ DNA responds when they are exposed to Earth radiation and during spaceflight. Researchers will measure the changes in their chromosomes to determine the level of risk.
Researchers believe that several factors including age and sex also have a role in this. This will help astronauts to find methods and develop techniques to protect them from space radiation. Researchers measured the baseline chromosomal status of astronauts before they flew to the ISS. They examined blood cells to get the status. These blood cells were then exposed to gamma-ray. This provided an opportunity to measure the chromosomal changes. Researchers again collected blood samples from the astronauts after their return from the ISS to measure alterations in the chromosome. They discovered a higher level of irregularities in the baseline chromosome of older astronauts than the younger members.