Radiation Levels on the Moon Are Alarmingly High, First Ever Measurements Reveal

Radiation on the lunar surface is 200 times higher than on Earth.
Loukia Papadopoulos
1,2 (edit by Utku K.)

Scientists have finally measured radiation levels on the moon and have found it to be surprisingly and alarmingly high. New research revealed that the astronauts aboard NASA's upcoming Artemis mission in 2024 will have to endure levels of radiation 200 times higher than those found on Earth.


The measurements were undertaken in January 2019 by China's Chang'e 4 robotic spacecraft mission and were published in a study in the journal Science Advances. They reveal that moon explorers would be subjected to an average daily radiation dose equivalent to 1,369 microsieverts per day.

This amount is about 2.6 times higher than the daily exposure International Space Station, it could still be considered safe in short intervals, explained the researchers in an interview with CNN.

“The radiation levels we measured on the Moon are about 200 times higher than on the surface of the Earth and 5 to 10 times higher than on a flight from New York to Frankfurt,” said University of Kiel physicist Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber, who worked on the study, in the statement.

“Because astronauts would be exposed to these radiation levels longer than passengers or pilots on transatlantic flights, this is a considerable exposure.”

The study called this radiation galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) and said that it may have severe long term health effects such as the induction of cataracts, cancer, degenerative diseases of the central nervous system or other organ systems. The researchers also warned of exposure to large solar particle events (SPEs) with insufficient shielding. This may also cause problematic acute effects. 

What does this mean for the Artemis mission? For now, astronauts on the famed mission are planned to stay on the moon for two weeks and conduct two moonwalks. Will these plans be changed according to the new data? Only time will tell. In the meantime, the astronauts are training hard for their historic trip and we wish them luck!

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