Friday, December 21, 2012

For Manned Deep-Space Missions, Radiation Is Biggest Hurdle


High radiation levels beyond Earth orbit pose the biggest challenge to human exploration of deep-space destinations, experts say.

With current spacecraft technology, astronauts can cruise through deep space for a maximum of one year or so before accumulating a dangerously high radiation dose, researchers say. As a result, many intriguing solar system targets remain off-limits to human exploration at the moment.

"There is an equivalent of a Mach 1 — a sound barrier — that exists, in terms of galactic cosmic radiation," Alvin Drew, manager of NASA's Deep Space Habitat Project, said Wednesday (Dec. 19) during a presentation with the agency's Future In-Space Operations working group.

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