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Predicting the radiation risk to ESA's astronauts
Date:2/13/2008

y. To do this, Tore Ersmark of the Royal Institute of Technology (KTH), Stockholm, Sweden worked with several existing software packages. These included a software toolkit known as Geant4, which simulates the propagation of radiation particles. Geant4 has been successfully used in disciplines such as space physics, medical physics and high-energy physics, and is developed by a large international collaboration involving ESA, CERN, and many other institutes and universities.

One of the lengthiest aspects of the work was that Ersmark had to build from scratch a computer model of the International Space Station itself. The configuration and orientation of the ISS are crucial parameters in defining the amount of matter that radiation passes through.

The Columbus module, launched into space by NASA's Space Shuttle on 7 February, is the most ambitious and sophisticated contribution to human spaceflight that Europe has yet made. It is equipped with radiation monitors to test the DESIRE predictions. "We are really pleased with the results from DESIRE and look forward to comparing them to the actual measurements," says Petteri.

Inside Columbus, during quiet solar times, the radiation levels are expected to be low. "Although they are several hundred times greater than the background radiation level here in Sweden, that is still not dangerous," says Ersmark.

Beyond Columbus, the DESIRE tool can be developed into a European software package that can be used to predict the radiation risks for other manned space flight missions, both close to Earth and beyond the protection of our planets magnetic field.

The radiation environment close to Earth consists of three main components: Particles trapped in the Earths magnetic field; particles that arrive from deep space called Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) and particles expelled from the Sun during solar eruptions. These components all vary with time, mainly due to the unpredictable activit
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Contact: Markus Bauer
markus.bauer@esa.int
31-715-656-799
European Space Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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