October 3, 2018

Tracking cosmic radiation – To the Moon and back with ISA and NASA

On 3 October 2018 at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Bremen, the German Aerospace Center (Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt; DLR), the US space agency NASA and the Israeli Space Agency (ISA) – met to discuss the next steps in the cooperation project Matroshka AstroRad Radiation Experiment (MARE). The experiment is scheduled to be sent to the Moon and back on the Orion spacecraft in December 2019 in collaboration with NASA. This innovative mission aims to collect data on the radiation to which the human body is exposed during a voyage to the Moon, and at the same time test a radiation protection vest.

"The doctors and physicists at DLR have longstanding experience in researching cosmic radiation and its effects on the human body in Earth orbit," explains Hansjörg Dittus, DLR Executive Board Member for Space Research and Technology. "Our scientific expertise enables us to make vital contributions to the preparation of long-term missions to the Moon and beyond."

Scheduled to travel to the Moon, Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1) will be the first uncrewed flight by NASA's Orion spacecraft beyond Earth orbit. The spacecraft will carry two DLR measurement bodies, called the Matroshka Phantoms. They are identical and are both fitted with more than 1400 active and passive sensors spread across their exterior and interior to acquire data on the effects of cosmic radiation on the bodies' interior and organs. During the flight, one of the phantoms will wear the AstroRad protective vest by StemRad, the industry partner from Israel. The other model will be exposed to the radiation without any protection whatsoever.

The measurement bodies will be fitted with sensors and prepared for the space voyage at the DLR Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, where the data collected during the flight will be compared and evaluated on behalf of all partners and co-investigators. A number of DLR Matroshka phantoms have already travelled to space, but exclusively to the International Space Station ISS – so only in a near-Earth orbit. The MARE project will mark the first time that scientists collect data on radiation exposure beyond ISS orbit.


Andreas Schütz

Head of Corporate Communications, DLR Spokesperson
German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Corporate Communications
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne
Tel: +49 2203 601-2474

Dr. Andreas Kahle

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
International Relations

Thomas Berger

German Aerospace Center (DLR)
Institute of Aerospace Medicine
Radiation Biology
Linder Höhe, 51147 Cologne