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Radi-N2: Detecting neutron radiation on the ISS


Uploaded on November 26, 2013


Radi-N2: Detecting neutron radiation on the ISS

2013-04-18 - Neutron radiation is a serious hazard and challenge for human space exploration. To better understand the amount and frequency in low-Earth orbit, CSA Astronaut Chris Hadfield is taking part in a Canadian experiment that uses bubble detectors to measure the neutron radiation levels on board the ISS. (Credits: Canadian Space Agency, NASA)


Chris Hadfield : Hi, I'm Chris Hadfield, living and working here aboard the International Space Station.

Our Sun is constantly pouring and churning out a stream of electrons and protons, this sometimes is known as solar wind. And occasionally, activities on the Sun can cause big powerful gusts of solar wind. And when a sudden blast a solar wind head towards the Earth, the impact often triggers the more intense displays of the northern and the southern lights.

Solar storms can also cause problems with radio-communications and GPS signals. In orbit, solar storms can be harmful to satellites, and can cause havoc with our equipment and our bodies here on the Space Station. They can endanger us humans with potentially lethal doses of radiation. If such a threat were to head towards us, we can take shelters here on the Station where we have thicker radiation protection.

But to help predict radiation risks, we're currently running a Canadian-made experiment onboard called Radi-N2. Radi-N2 will help create a map of radiation throughout every habitable area of our home, here in space. Long-terme exposure to radiation can damage us and potentially cause cataract or bone marrow damage, or even cancer.

Radi-N uses bubble detectors. These instruments are placed around various ISS modules and each detector is filled with a clear polymer gel inside which are liquid droplets. And when a neutron strikes the test tube, a droplet may be vaporized. This creates a visible gaz bubble in the polymer. Each bubble, which represents a neutron radiation, is then placed within an automatic reader and counted. And the CSA support of this radiation research may not only lead to major advances for future human exploration of space but also in our knowledge of the health risk of radiation itself. To learn more about the Radi-N project, or to see northern lights each night, check out the AuroraMax page on the Canadian Space Agency Website.


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