Those radiation-measuring female mannequins, Helga and Zohar, are back in Cologne, Germany – fresh from their journey around the Moon.
Positioned within the NASA Artemis 1’s Orion spacecraft, the astronaut “phantoms” are built to provide a three-dimensional image of the radiation exposure of the female body during a flight to the Moon and back.
The Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE) project was led by the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR) at its Institute of Aerospace Medicine.
DLR is the national aeronautics and space research centre of the Federal Republic of Germany.
Reports Thomas Berger, head of the MARE experiment at the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine, a next step is to start the evaluation of the more than 12,000 passive radiation detectors made of small crystals located throughout the two measuring bodies.
“We will now dismantle the mannequins and remove the passive radiation sensors in each ‘slice’,” Berger explains in a DLR press statement.
The procedure involves examining and evaluating the information stored within the individual crystals using DLR laboratory equipment.
Reading out the information stored by the crystals creates a three-dimensional image of the human body that reveals the overall radiation exposure experienced by bones and organs during a flight to the Moon and back.
The study is also investigating the effectiveness of the shielding provided by the radiation vest worn by Zohar, provided by the Israel Space Agency (ISA), made by the Israeli company StemRad.
“We will see how effective the shielding effect was by comparing the radiation exposure of Helga, who wore no vest, and Zohar, who was equipped with the protective vest,” Berger explains.
The two mannequins each consist of 38 slices and contain organs and bones of different densities made of plastic. Zohar was provided by the ISA.
Berger added that the extensive evaluation of the data will now take several months. Detailed results are expected by the beginning of next year.
“We can already see that some of our assumptions about radiation exposure during lunar travel are confirmed,” Berger adds. “Now that we have access to all of the available measurement data, we can begin to draw more detailed conclusions.”
According to Anke Kaysser-Pyzalla, Chair of the DLR Executive Board: “Radiation exposure is one of the main unsolved medical challenges of human spaceflight. We need to understand it more precisely to develop effective measures to protect humans in space.”