How did our Apollo Astronauts get past the Van Allen Radiation Belts on the way to the Moon?
The discovery of the James Van Allen Radiation Belts by Dr.James Van Allen in 1958, explained that there exists several intense bands of cosmic radiation which are doughnut shaped that encircle the earth. How did our Apollo astronauts make it through these bands without proper shielding, and once through, survive exposure on the moon's surface; especially during the solar maximums in which extreme solar flaring was occuring? How much shielding and what type of shielding would be neccesary to protect the astronauts? How long would it take to travel through these belts and the exposure rates that would accompany each mission to and from the moon?
- Jerry PLv 61 decade agoFavorite Answer
Within the Van Allen belts are particles capable of penetrating about 1 g/cm2 of shielding , or 1 millimeter of lead. That sort of shielding is easy to build into spacecraft.
- 1 decade ago
The astronauts passed through the belts very quickly, limiting their exposure time to the intense radiation to about an hour or two. Most of the charged particle radiation is unable to penetrate even a thin layer of metal, so they received plenty of protection from their spacecraft. In fact the exposure the astronauts received during their entire mission, including travel through the Van Allen Belts and lunar excursions, was about 2 rem or less, which is less than 1% of the exposure needed to kill a person.Source(s): http://spider.ipac.caltech.edu/staff/waw/mad/mad19... http://lsda.jsc.nasa.gov/books/apollo/S2ch3.htm http://www.nrc.gov/reading-rm/doc-collections/fact...
- campbelp2002Lv 71 decade ago
The radiation is not that strong in the belts. It would be dangerous to stay there for weeks, but the one or two hours Apollo took to pass through posed no danger. There were no solar flares during any Apollo mission, so for that danger, they just got lucky. If there had been a flare the plan was to abort and return to Earth ASAP, maybe with the space craft oriented so that the CM faced away from the Sun to use the SM as a shield.
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- DrAnders_pHdLv 61 decade ago
The Apollo astronauts did go through the Van Allen belt very quickly but after the missions several astronauts did develop cancer and catharacts. For instance astronaut Jack Swigert of Apollo 13 died from bone cancer december 27 1982. Space is not a safe place to be but no one has ever said that it was.
- Anonymous1 decade ago
Newtons laws. For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The spacecraft used propellent to apply a force away from the moon. As a result the spacecraft went towards the moon.
Exposure to the radiation belts is not immediately fatal. Prolonged duration (much longer than the Apollo missions) would result in radiation poisoning.
- JOHNNIE BLv 71 decade ago
The Van Allan belt is what we call the ozone layer and the UV radiation is high ,but the real radiation is safely low . There is a lot of electrical current flowing in the ozone layer and the satellites must turn off all high voltage when they pass through if they don't they will have an arc over and burn something up. They got a good dose of radiation not good but not that bad.
- 3 years ago
It takes 8 days to get to the moon! So how could they pass the Van Allen belt in a couple hours! Lol Also if that piece of tin can protected them then why with better tech can t they get passed it now!?
- 1 decade ago
Dr. Van Allen himself has said that the amount they were exposed to was not life threatening. It would take a larger amount of time and more radiation exposure to do any damage.
- tlbs101Lv 71 decade ago
GPS satellites "live" in the Van Allen belts, and some of them have survived for well over a decade. None of them has failed because of radiation.
So... it must not be as bad as they would like you to believe, huh.