Tech UPTechnologyNASA iPhone application to measure radiation in space

NASA iPhone application to measure radiation in space

spacewxThe application‘Space Wx’, developed for the Apple iPhone and iTouch and overseen by NASA, providesreal-time information about radiation exposure from solar activity and other sources of radiation from space, especially useful when flying from an altitude of 5,000 meters. The application is primarily aimed at airline pilots, flight crews and passengers.

“Aviation professionals’ radiation exposure is currently not constantly monitored,” explains Dr. Chris Mertens, a scientist at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia. “This is the first system that allows it.” The general application provides space weather information about the sun, solar wind, magnetosphere, ionosphere, and thermosphere, as well as space radiation. It has been developed by Space Enviroment Technologies Inc. under the direction of Mertens, principal investigator of the NAIRAS project (Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation Situation Report for Aviation Safety).

Radiation levels from space are low at ground level, but increase significantly with altitude. Still, at 11,000 meters, the typical cruising height of a passenger plane, the exposure is still considered safe: less than a chest X-ray.Exposure is much higher, however, over the Earth’s poles, where the planet’s magnetic field no longer offers protection.. And with a thousandfold increase in the number of commercial airline flights over the North Pole in the last 10 years to get from North America to Russia and Asia, it has become a serious problem.

“One or two flights do not represent lethal doses of radiation, but frequent trips can produce a cumulative health risk of developing cancer,” Mertens clarifies. ‘Space Wx’ is based on data from 16 agencies and institutions and costs $ 1.99.


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