French astronaut Thomas Pisquet will carry out dozens of experiments at the International Space Station, including monitoring harmful radiation, operating a roving vehicle from a distance, improving sleep and caring for the body, as part of preparing for missions further to the moon and beyond.
“We are working on exploration techniques,” said Remy Canton, in charge of the unit in charge of twelve new experiments at the National Center for Space Studies in France.
These experiments are of great importance in light of the huge challenges that come from sending a manned mission to the moon or perhaps launching such space missions one day to Mars.
The first of these challenges is protection from the avalanche of particles from solar storms and galactic cosmic rays that seriously harm the health of astronauts and their equipment.
As for the inhabitants of the Earth, and to a lesser extent the residents of the International Space Station, they are protected by a “shield” in the Earth’s magnet field.
But moving further away exposes humans to real radiation in the form of streams of strongly charged particles. “It is a very big problem in terms of space exploration,” said Remy Canton, as “you should not receive a lethal dose (of these radiation) before you set foot on the surface of Mars or because of staying for a long time on the moon.”
Before considering protection from these radiation, it must be measured more precisely, and perhaps anticipated if possible. This is the subject of Lumina’s experiment with advanced technology that uses the characteristics of a fiber-optic network with phosphorous stimulation.
“When we send out the radiation, the color becomes dark very quickly,” says Sylvain Girard, a researcher at the Laboratory of “Ober-Corian” and the coordinator of the experiment. Then, it is “sufficient” to measure the extent to which the color has become dark by comparing the intensity of the light signal directed to one side with that received by the other side, to extract the transmitted radiation dose.
This mechanism would allow real-time measurement, according to Gerard, with a sufficient degree of sensitivity to detect any sudden change in the transmitted dose, which predicts, for example, a solar storm.
The experiment will also examine how an astronaut could “use the information available to him that is related to touch and sight” to improve the perception of future command centers.
And Thomas Pisquet will wear a virtual reality helmet attached to a mechanism that allows a return with the push of the hands “because manual dexterity and fine motor skills are greatly reduced in areas of zero gravity, as we stop feeling the weight of the arms and the force exerted by the person.” In particular, he will have to practice using a robotic arm on a mission to catch a virtual vehicle.
Then, the “Dreams” experiment will be conducted, which is based on recording the stages of sleep “to understand how isolation and microgravity affect its quality,” according to Canton.
And this topic finds great importance in the International Space Station, where the day and night phases follow within 45 minutes, and for long-term missions on the moon or towards Mars.
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