Two torsos, nicknamed Helga and Zohar, are bound for the Moon aboard the Orion capsule in order to measure radiation risks for female astronauts for the first time.
The mannequins are modeled after the body of an adult woman and one of them is outfitted with a newly developed radiation vest. For the Artemis 1 mission, the un-crewed Orion capsule will travel to the Moon and back in order to test radiation safety and collect data about flight accelerations and vibrations. Artemis 1 is scheduled to launch sometime later this year.
The Artemis program's goal is to return humans to the Moon for the first time in over 50 years, but this time the space agency has vowed to land the first woman on the lunar surface. Women appear to be at greater risk for suffering from the harmful effects of space radiation, so it's important to test the radiation boundary levels since they differ from their male colleagues'. Studies for radiation exposure for men and women indicate a higher chance for women developing cancer or problems with their reproductive health.
Now that NASA is preparing to send female astronauts to the Moon for the first time, it's busy looking for ways to mitigate the effects of space radiation for its crew's long trip. The Helga and Zohar torsos are part of the MARE experiment that was designed by the German Aerospace Center (DLR). The experiment will use two identical representations of the female body to investigate radiation exposure throughout the flight of the Artemis 1 mission, which may last up to six weeks. This will set the stage for Artemis 2, in which an Orion capsule carrying real humans will fly to the Moon and back (without landing) possibly as early as 2024.
The manequins have already arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they will be strapped into the Orion spacecraft about four weeks before scheduled launch. NASA continues to prepare its Space Launch System (SLS) for the mission, which is expected to blast off later this summer.
What do you think about all of the cool space missions that have been popping up over the last year or so?