Deep Space Radiation – Questions about Human Health Risk

Outside of Earthʻs Atmosphere and Magnetic Field - Cosmic Radiation

       We are shielded from most Cosmic Radiation  by Earthʻs Magnetic Field and Atmosphere

Anyone who has carried a Geiger Counter on a flight knows that radiation levels go up with altitude.  This is primarily because the atmosphere thins, providing less shielding from cosmic radiation.  The magnetic field surrounding the earth also provides some shielding.  Outside, in deep space, radiation levels increase significantly.  Health data for Apollo Astronauts shows need for more attention to deep space effects on human tissue, and also special considerations in shielding.  More on this at nature.com and observor.com.

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Safecast Moves Open Radiation Data Movement Forward

Safecast Moves Permanent Radiation Monitoring Stations into Fukushima Prefecture

Safecast Moves Permanent Radiation Monitoring Stations into Fukushima Prefecture

The Journal of Radiological Protection has published a peer reviewed Scientific Article by Safecast members  on the success of Citizen Science in providing radiation data during and after the Fukushima Daiichi reactor melt downs.

Safecast is also expanding its project by deploying permanent monitoring stations in Fukushima Prefecture.

In Washington DC, during the recent Nuclear Security Summit, Safecast collaborated with NRDC and others to promote the role of citizen science in responding to emergencies and potentially in prevention.  More on that here.  NRDC did a great job at organizing events around the Summit.

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The Bomb – Buzz about North Korea and the importance of Sensor Data

North Korea Nuclear Test

Source: Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization

Just when you think progress is being made, things can go backwards real fast. Fifty years of work to advance nuclear arms control seems set back to the stone age recently – but the stones being thrown around are getting bigger and more dangerous,

Technology and sensor data will be playing a big role in determining what happened this morning. Arms control programs advanced during the thaw between the US and Russia led to confirmation that sensor data can distinguish between conventional and nuclear detonations underground. Seismic data is now being analyzed for familiar signatures that can help characterize the event. Independent nonprofit groups such as NRDC also keep a watchful eye on these situations to promote understanding and pathways to arms control.  Other work by governments, IAEA, NGOs  and the scientific community created radiation monitoring technology that can measure the the ratio of key isotopes of radioactive Xenon and Krypton gases in the atmosphere to further characterize the event. Most radiation from the event will likely be contained in the earth, but enough Xenon will eventually escape that sensitive equipment will be able to detect it.  The CTBO, Comprehensive Test Ban Organization, is charged with monitoring these types of events, and many governments also have independent programs.   It will take days or weeks for all the data to come in.  Here are a few links that seem interesting at this moment in time:

The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Arms Control Association Special Report

The New York Times

The South China Morning Post

The Asahi Shimbun

Yes, Geiger Counters equipped with pancake type detectors can detect the radioactive noble gases Xenon and Krypton better than most detectors, but they cannot differentiate between the isotopes and also would have difficulty detecting subtle levels that would occur at a large distance from the underground site due to dispersion.

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