Moon’s Radiation Measured for the First Time by China as Race for Lunar Habitation Intensifies

The lunar surface | Image credit: PTI

The lunar surface | Image credit: PTI

The Chinese robotic spacecraft, Chang’e 4 has become the first project to document the actual radiation on the lunar surface. While Neil Armstrong’s team had carried dosimeters, the official data was unreported.

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  • Last Updated: September 26, 2020, 1:57 PM IST

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The race to win the space wars is back. After the last Apollo missions that took a man on the moon, it’s no secret that all international space agencies are eager to send an actual habitat there. In light of this undeclared race, space research, especially lunar research, has been a priority for many organisations.

The Chinese robotic spacecraft, Chang’e 4 has become the first project to document the actual radiation on the lunar surface. While Neil Armstrong’s team had carried dosimeters, the official data was unreported.


According to a new study published in the journal Science Advances, the Chinese spacecraft landed on the far side of the moon in January, 2019. The findings revealed that average daily radiation exposure on the moon could be 1,369 microsieverts per day. This value is 2.6 times more than the daily dose on the International space station.

Radiation is simply energy emitted in electromagnetic waves or particles. On earth, it can be from visible light to heat like infrared radiation. In space, the astronauts are subjected to potentially harmful radiations. On earth, we are protected from the outer space’s radiation with our blanket of atmosphere. In space, the astronauts will be exposed as the moon has no atmosphere.

There are some radiations that will be absolutely fatal even at the slightest exposure. Some of the radiation to be experienced there include sporadic solar particle events (from sun’s energy), galactic cosmic rays, gamma rays (yes, the Hulk one but it more likely to kill than make someone a superhero) and so on.

“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,” Robert Wimmer-Schweingruber was quoted by CNN.

He is the corresponding author of the study that published Friday and a professor of physics at the University of Kiel in Germany.

He further explained, since the astronauts will be in space for a considerable amount of time, definitely much longer than a transatlantic flight, the exposure risks will be higher.

NASA’s Artemis Moon Mission is set for 2024. This time, it will send a woman on the moon. The mission is likely to last a week.



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