ESA’s Gateway Experiment Will Observe Radiation in Deep Space

​The first science experiments that will take place on the Gateway, the international research laboratory orbiting the Moon, have been chosen by the European Space Agency (ESA) and NASA.

Europe’s part will control radiation to get a full comprehension of cosmic and solar rays in unexplored regions as the orbital outpost is put together around the Moon. The first module for Gateway, the Power and Propulsion Element, is scheduled to take-off on the second Artemis expedition and will house two external scientific experiments.

Monitoring the Radiation

ESA’s hardware will continuously monitor radiation and collect data for all researchers from participating countries to examine. As the Gateway​ lab gets to its position in orbit resembling a halo around the Moon, it will fly through the Van Allen radiation belt. This area is located around the Earth, and it has high-energy particles that are caught by the planet’s magnetic field.

The particles can trigger more radiation harm to humans, and the hardware will gather useful data on how to keep astronauts safe as they travel through the belt. As soon as it is placed on its spot, Gateway​ will rotate around the Moon and fly at both 3,000 kilometers (1,864 miles) and 70,000 kilometers (43,495 miles)​ from the lunar surface.

The radiation analysis will keep monitoring the changes in protons, electrons, as well as heavy ions and neutrons as they appear in the measuring instruments’ focus.

“Heavy neutrons are of particular interest for us,” said ESA’s Science Team Leader of Human and Robotic Exploration Jennifer Ngo-Anh. “Some cosmic rays hit the Moon and interact with the surface to reflect as heavy neutrons that are particularly damaging to humans. We need to know more about where and how these particles form, to protect astronauts.”

It is a Joint Project

NASA’s first examination to fly on board of the Gateway ​is a Sun-based space weather experiment to monitor solar particles and solar wind. These events are erratic and can trigger violent outbursts of radiation that could reach astronomers as they travel further from the atmosphere of Earth.

“Both these experiments will work together to supply much-needed information to forecast radiation events and how to build better spacecraft and protection for astronauts on and around the Moon,” said ESA’s Director of Human and Robotic Exploration David Parker.

“As we prepare for the next generation of European astronauts who will join their NASA colleagues in the Artemis program, this research is of vital importance and shows how science and exploration go hand-in-hand as we move forward to the Moon.”

More experiments will be chosen to travel to the Gateway ​in the future in order to use the unique conditions in lunar orbit that cannot be mirrored on Earth or on the International Space Station (ISS).

The orbiting lab will be built and put together this decade as a platform for science in deep space and as an outpost for astronauts flying to the Moon. Recent talks decided that ESA will build a Habitation module, communication systems, and a refueling module for the Gateway.

The Canadian Space Agency has engaged in offering advanced robotics for the lunar lab, and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is also in talks to supply materials.

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