The flow of high-energy particles that penetrate the outer layers of Earth's atmosphere in the next decade will increase. Gloomy forecast says that astronauts in orbit, and the passengers in airliners, will receive higher doses of radiation, but a manned mission to Mars may be completely forgotten until 2050
By space weather usually means state of the medium in the upper layers of Earth's atmosphere and near-Earth objects. This primarily concerns the flow of energetic particles — cosmic radiation coming from outer space, solar cosmic rays, etc. The sun plays a very important role, and it is important not only to the radiation emitted by them, but also the strength of the magnetic field of a star that can reject or ignore cosmic ray particle. And then it did not expect anything good to happen: According to reports, the sun comes out of the period of "high peak", in which it was from 1920. We are in for a long minimum.
In this regard, the British scientists, led by Michael Lockwood (Michael Lockwood) are ready to beat the alarm. In a recent paper, they examined the correlation of cosmic and solar particles to solar activity over the past hundred years. Of course, in the last century, nobody kept a record of the properties of cosmic protons, so that the data were obtained from the analysis of ancient ice deposits near the earth's poles. The fact is that by interacting with the nitrogen atmosphere, cosmic rays lead to the appearance of nitrate and the subtle differences in their number to draw conclusions about the intensity of the flow. And the particles coming from the Sun, "fill" sediments rare isotope beryllium-10.
Scientists have shown that periods of low solar activity are associated with a large number of cosmic rays reaching the Earth's surface even, but fewer particles coming from the sun. This in itself is not a surprise, surprised, rather, that reduce the number of "solar" energy particles them (and as a result, and the risk) has increased substantially. In general, the most dangerous period, from this point of view we can tell you the average activity of the Sun, when sufficiently high, and the number and energy of the particles arriving from him. It is — it is the period in which the sun is now.
Is it dangerous? Apparently, yes. Cosmic radiation is stronger at higher altitudes, and theoretically frequent air travelers will get it in larger doses. Today they can do for the year up to five long flights through the neighborhood of the poles of the Earth, where the particle flux is maximum, and do not get the amount of radiation in excess of the recommended. In future decades, according to Lockwood and his colleagues, that number may drop to two.
But, of course, the main problem will be for the astronauts, especially if those have to go to the moon and beyond. The current estimate for the flight to Mars and back the person will receive a lifetime "norm" of radiation for men and twice the norm for women. However, Lockwood and his team warn that in the following years, the dose will double, and this situation will continue for the next at least 40, and the maximum — 200 years.