15. November 2022
Off to the Moon

#Lu­naTwins on board Artemis I ready for launch

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Space
NASA's SLS heavy-lift rocket at the launch site in Florida
NASA's SLS heavy-lift rock­et at the launch site in Flori­da
Image 1/7, Credit: NASA

NASA's SLS heavy-lift rocket at the launch site in Florida

NASA's new SLS (Space Launch Sys­tem) heavy-lift rock­et will car­ry the Ori­on space­craft, in­clud­ing the two fe­male as­tro­naut phan­toms Hel­ga and Zo­har, from the launch site at Kennedy Space Cen­ter in Flori­da to the Moon.
Helga and Zohar on the flight deck of the Orion spacecraft
Hel­ga and Zo­har on the flight deck of the Ori­on space­craft
Image 2/7, Credit: NASA/LM/DLR

Helga and Zohar on the flight deck of the Orion spacecraft

The two DLR ra­di­a­tion mea­sure­ment man­nequins Hel­ga and Zo­har are now ready for their flight to the Moon and back.
Infographic about the MARE experiment
In­fo­graph­ic about the MARE ex­per­i­ment
Image 3/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Infographic about the MARE experiment

For the MARE ex­per­i­ment, the ra­di­a­tion mea­sur­ing man­nequin Hel­ga will fly with her 'twin sis­ter' Zo­har to the Moon and back in the Ori­on space­craft to mea­sure ra­di­a­tion and eval­u­ate the As­tro­Rad ra­di­a­tion pro­tec­tion vest as part of NASA's Artemis I mis­sion.
On the way to the Moon
On the way to the Moon
Image 4/7, Credit: ©NASA, composition image: DLR

On the way to the Moon

The Ori­on space­craft will or­bit the Moon sev­er­al times be­fore re­turn­ing to Earth.
Assembling the Helga mannequin
As­sem­bling the Hel­ga man­nequin
Image 5/7, Credit: © DLR. All rights reserved

Assembling the Helga mannequin

For the MARE ex­per­i­ment, the ra­di­a­tion mea­sur­ing man­nequin Hel­ga will fly with its ‘twin sis­ter’ Zo­har to the Moon and back for ra­di­a­tion mea­sure­ment and eval­u­a­tion of the As­tro­Rad ra­di­a­tion pro­tec­tion vest on board NASA's Ori­on space­craft. The two dum­mies, called phan­toms, each con­sist of 38 discs and are 95 cen­time­tres tall. In­side them are or­gans and bones made of plas­tic of vary­ing den­si­ty. There and on the sur­face, each phan­tom has over 6000 pas­sive ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tors com­pris­ing small crys­tals and a to­tal of 16 ac­tive de­tec­tors (M-42) from DLR in­stalled on the body's most ra­di­a­tion-sen­si­tive or­gans – lungs, stom­ach, uterus and bone mar­row.
As­sem­bling the Hel­ga man­nequin
Video 6/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Assembling the Helga mannequin

Length: 00:00:11
For the MARE ex­per­i­ment, the ra­di­a­tion mea­sur­ing man­nequin Hel­ga will fly with its 'twin sis­ter' Zo­har to the Moon and back for ra­di­a­tion mea­sure­ment and eval­u­a­tion of the As­tro­Rad ra­di­a­tion pro­tec­tion vest on board NASA's Ori­on space­craft. The two dum­mies, called phan­toms, each con­sist of 38 discs and are 95 cen­time­tres tall. In­side them are or­gans and bones made of plas­tic of vary­ing den­si­ty.
Active radiation detector M-42
Ac­tive ra­di­a­tion de­tec­tor M-42
Image 7/7, Credit: DLR (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)

Active radiation detector M-42

The Ma­trosh­ka As­tro­Rad Ra­di­a­tion Ex­per­i­ment (MARE) will fly to the Moon on NASA's Artemis I mis­sion. The ex­per­i­ment will in­ves­ti­gate ra­di­a­tion ex­po­sure through­out the en­tire flight to Earth’s nat­u­ral satel­lite us­ing two iden­ti­cal ‘phan­toms’. Each of the man­nequins con­sists of 38 discs, mea­sures 95 cen­time­tres and con­tains or­gans and bones made of plas­tic of vary­ing den­si­ty. More than 6000 pas­sive dosime­ters con­sist­ing of small crys­tals are in­stalled at these lo­ca­tions and on the sur­face. In ad­di­tion, 16 ac­tive de­tec­tors are in­te­grat­ed in­to the most ra­di­a­tion-sen­si­tive or­gans of the body – lungs, stom­ach, uterus and bone mar­row.
  • Launch of the Artemis I lunar mission scheduled for 16 November 2022
  • The two female astronaut phantoms Helga and Zohar from the MARE experiment are on board for this extensive test mission.
  • MARE is the first experiment to measure the radiation exposure to the female body beyond the orbit of the International Space Station ISS.
  • The launch preparations and the launch of Artemis I can be followed via the livestream from 04:30 CET on 16 November 2022.
  • Focus: Space, exploration, moon, cosmic radiation

The return to the Moon is just around the corner. The launch window opens for NASA's Artemis I mission opens this Wednesday, 16 November 2022, at 07:04 (CET). After several postponements, it is now set to go – taking humankind back to the Moon almost exactly 50 years after the last Apollo flight in December 1972. On board are the #LunaTwins of the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR). The two astronaut phantoms, Helga and Zohar, of the MARE experiment will measure the cosmic radiation on the journey to the Moon and back. Both phantoms endured the waiting time prior to launch well thanks to a sophisticated power-saving strategy. A flight lasting approximately 26 days now lies ahead of them. The Orion capsule containing the#LunaTwins is expected back on Earth on 11 December 2022.

"Helga and Zohar are fit for flight," says Thomas Berger from the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine. "We planned for the possibility of a longer waiting time prior to launch, and both mannequins are also designed for the long flight time lasting several weeks." Once the new SLS heavy-lift rocket launches the flight test on schedule tomorrow from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, an extensive flight programme will begin. This will involve the Orion spacecraft, with the two mannequins on board, entering lunar orbit and travelling up to half a million kilometres from Earth – further than any spacecraft fit for a human crew has ever flown. "During this journey, the radiation levels will be significantly higher than on Earth or even on the International Space Station. The MARE experiment will be the first to comprehensively record exactly how much higher," Berger continues.

Passive and active radiation sensors

The two measuring mannequins are modelled on the female body, including reproductive organs, in order to measure the radiation dose experienced by organs that are particularly sensitive to it. The female astronaut phantoms, each consisting of 38 slices, are 95 centimetres tall and weigh 36 kilograms. Zohar weighs 62 kilograms when taking into account the AstroRad radiation protection vest that will be tested during the flight. Inside the two phantoms are organs and bones made of tissue-equivalent plastics that mimic the varying density of bones, soft tissue and lungs. More than 12,000 passive radiation detectors made of small crystals have been installed in these ‘organs’ and on the mannequins’ surfaces, as well as 16 active detectors from DLR in the body's most radiation-sensitive organs – including the lungs, stomach, uterus and bone marrow. The passive radiation measuring devices (dosimeters) do not require any current, measure continuously and thus provide a value of the total radiation exposure throughout the entire mission. By reading out the crystals, a three-dimensional image of the human body is created, revealing the total radiation exposure to different parts of the bones and organs during a lunar flight.

The active, battery-operated detectors integrated in the two phantoms will record the radiation exposure with a temporal resolution of five minutes. This will allow the researchers to understand under which conditions and during which phases of the mission radiation exposure affects the body parts. To account for the possibility of increased waiting time prior to the launch of Artemis I, a particularly ingenious power-saving method was implemented for the DLR detectors. "Our active radiation detectors, called M-42, are in a type of sleep mode prior to launch, requiring almost no power from the batteries," explains DLR researcher Thomas Berger, who is leading the MARE experiment. "Only at launch do acceleration sensors activate the devices and the radiation measurements begin."

About the MARE experiment

The German Aerospace Center (DLR) is leading the MARE experiment. The main project partners are the Israeli Space Agency (ISA), the Israeli industrial partner StemRad, which developed the AstroRad protective vest, as well as Lockheed Martin and NASA. MARE, in its complexity and in its international collaboration with numerous universities and research institutions from Europe, Japan and the USA, represents the largest experiment to determine radiation exposure for astronauts that has ever left low-Earth orbit. It provides fundamental data for assessing the radiation risk for the upcoming crewed flights to the Moon.

USA and Europe fly to the Moon with Artemis

NASA's Artemis I mission will see the first, initially uncrewed Orion capsule fly to the Moon, orbit it and return to Earth. The capsule will be propelled and powered by the European Service Module (ESM), which was built with German technology, primarily in Bremen. The flight time will be between 26 and 42 days. The MARE experiment is included as what is known as a secondary or scientific payload. This means that both phantoms must function independently of the spacecraft. From power supply to data storage – all functions will be completely independent of the Orion capsule. NASA's new lunar programme was named Artemis in reference to the Apollo missions. Artemis is the Moon goddess and twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology.

For more information on the Artemis I mission, visit DLR's dedicated mission page. You can find numerous pictures of the MARE experiment in the project's flickr gallery.

Contact
  • Falk Dambowsky
    Ed­i­tor
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)

    Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Me­dia Re­la­tions
    Telephone: +49 2203 601-3959
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
  • Thomas Berger
    Ra­di­a­tion Bi­ol­o­gy
    Ger­man Aerospace Cen­ter (DLR)
    In­sti­tute of Aerospace Medicine
    Linder Höhe
    51147 Cologne
    Contact
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