Mars Science Lab Begins Radiation Assessment

An artist's rendition of the Mars Science Laboratory in cruise configuration. (Credits: NASA).

NASA’s Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity, which launched on November 26 and is now en route to Mars, has begun taking measurements with RAD. RAD is the Radiation Assessment Detector aboard the rover and is the first of the ten instrument suite to be engaged. 

Although radiation monitoring has been performed many times in space, it is usually assessed from the outer surface of a spacecraft. RAD, on the other hand, was designed to measure radiation as a human would experience it - from inside the shielded interior.  “The instrument is deep inside the spacecraft, the way an astronaut would be, “said Don Hassler, RAD’s principal investigator. “Understanding the effects of the spacecraft on the radiation field will be valuable in designing craft for astronauts to travel to Mars.”

In the video below, Hassler explains how this radiation study is unique and will help pave the way for deep space crewed missions.



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