The pouch holds a device called Dosis-3D, key to astronauts countering enhanced radiation in longer flights, like the ones being planned to Mars.
The radiation level increases as we go higher in space. At the International Space Station (ISS), it is 15 times higher than on Earth. So, when astronauts leave Earth to move to the ISS, they face extremely high levels of radiation. On missions to the Moon and Mars, radiation increases even further. Exposure to such intensive levels of radiation can result in dire health issues.
On missions to the Moon and Mars, radiation increases to such intensive levels that can result in dire health issues.
So, space research agencies like NASA and ESA must prepare spacecraft to minimize radiation absorption at these levels. Such research needs to gauge accurate measures of radiation level during an astronaut’s stay in space. This is what the European Space Agency’s (ESA) longest-running experiment in space is all about. The European agency fixes a specific device to measure radiation levels in the ISS spacecraft which leave for space, enclosed in a orange pouch. This unique equipment is known as Dosis-3D.
What’s inside the Orange Pouch?
Dosis-3D is an orange-colored pouch tied to the ISS which collects information about the radiation level using a device called a dosimeter. The experiment has been running for 11 years and the pouches are changed after every six months during crew rotation. The pouch can be found on the left side of the utility interface panel next to a vacuum connector on the ESA’s human research facility in Columbus. Dosis-3D helps scientists gauge the nature of space radiation and how it penetrates the ISS’s wall.
Two types of radiation detectors — active and passive are used to map radiation in all modules.
The data gathered through these detectors helps engineers and designers to make spacecraft more resistant to radiation. Protection against radiation is more important for astronauts who go on Moon or Mars missions. Dosis-3D can help engineers get a better understanding of how radiation affects humans on such missions. They can prepare spacecraft which can be better suited to long-duration missions. Dosimeters are as small in size as a pack of playing cards and they are fixed to the walls of the space station with Velcro. The detectors record the amount of radiation astronauts absorb during their stay at the ISS.
Such small dosimeters often go unnoticed because of their small size, but they help a great deal in preparing for future human space exploration. They are classic examples of science that occurs in outer space, and that can help make delicate space journeys better. Dosis-3D uses active dosimeters to measure fluctuations in radiation level over astronauts’ stay in space. Data collected from all station partners through such experiences is shared to create a clear picture of space radiation.
What happens to our body under high level of radiation?
The high level of radiation in space can increase cancer risk in a human. It can break our central nervous system, reduce motor function and cause behavioral changes. It can also cause one vomiting, nausea, fatigue and anorexia. On the space station, it’s a six-month stay. But on a mission like Mars, an astronaut is away from Earth for three years. Therefore, chances of radiation exposure is much higher on longer missions. Spacecraft also need a much higher level of protective shielding than on ISS missions.
Watch: How we protect Spacecraft from Radiation