Mighty Jupiter is incomprehensibly large. More massive than all the other planets and asteroids in the solar system combined, Jupiter is the size of 1,300 Earths. As if such a big guy needed any additional protection, Jupiter is also swathed in radiation that’s many thousands of times harsher than around Earth.
Between 1946 and 1958, the United States waged nuclear war on emptied islands in the Pacific. Bikini Atoll and the Enewetak Islands were evacuated first, their inhabitants moved from the blast. All in all, around 200 people were evacuated, but the plan was never that the islands be permanently abandoned. Now many of the displaced and their descendants want to move back to the islands, but leftover radiation is the greatest obstacle. When will it be it safe to move back to the site of 67 nuclear tests?
Earlier this week, we heard alarming reports of a “significant” nuclear waste leak at Hanford, the largest radioactive waste dumpsite in the country. Should we be worried? Absolutely. But mainly because this is a symptom of a much bigger problem that’s been festering for decades.
Radiation is all around us and too much of radiation is a bad thing so… are we all just screwed from all the radio waves and microwaves and ultraviolet radiation and rainbows and x-rays and radon and nuclear radiation in the world? Not exactly. Ted-Ed explains in the video animation below how not all radiation is created equal (we just have to protect ourselves from the ionizing radiation) and details how much radiation is actually damaging for us (four Sieverts!).
We don’t fully know the answer. But every crew that resides on the International Space Station provides us information that we use to adjust our protocols and that extends that period of time. Let’s take a closer look.