NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) - 04.11.18

Overview | Description | Applications | Operations | Results | Publications | Imagery

ISS Science for Everyone

Science Objectives for Everyone
High-energy radiation from the sun and cosmic sources poses a threat to humans living on the International Space Station, as well as embarking on future missions to the moon, asteroids or Mars. Future spacecraft need to shield crew members from dangerous radiation. NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) investigates a type of plastic enhanced with boron that blocks cosmic rays and high-energy particles coming from the sun.
Science Results for Everyone
Initiation of this investigation has been affected by the loss of the Orbital-3 launch vehicle and mission in October 2014.

The following content was provided by Angela Glidewell, B.S. M.E., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: NanoRacks Module-41

Principal Investigator(s)
Awty International School, Awty International School, Houston, TX, United States

Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
Angela Glidewell, B.S. M.E., Awty International School, Houston, TX, United States

Developer(s)
NanoRacks, LLC, Webster, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
National Laboratory Education (NLE)

Research Benefits
Space Exploration, Earth Benefits, Scientific Discovery

ISS Expedition Duration
March 2015 - September 2015; March 2016 - September 2016

Expeditions Assigned
43/44,47/48

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) contains a radiation monitor and adjustable amount of Boron-enhanced High-Density Polyethylene (BE-HDPE) for the purpose of characterizing the radiation environment of the International Space Station (ISS) and to measure the level of shielding provided by the BE-HDPE material.
  • BE-HDPE has been studied as a shielding source against neutron radiation due to its naturally Hydrogen-rich composition, which attenuates neutrons rather effectively.
  • Galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE) are composed of 1% Beta rays or electrons, 9% Alpha particles or Helium nuclei and 90% Hydrogen nuclei or protons.
  • Within the Module, a mechanical system positions sheets of BE-HDPE in relation to a radiation monitor.  Variable amounts of the sheets are used to determine the proportional amount of radiation reduction for a given amount of BE-HDPE.

Description
Due to the damaging effects of ionizing radiation, there is an unmistakable need for astronauts to be protected while in space for significant lengths of time. The International Space Station (ISS) modules are presently made from an outer layer of aluminum, an insulation layer, a debris shield layer similar to Kevlar and a second debris shield layer of aluminum for added protection against debris and micrometeoroids, as well as reflection of the intense sunlight.  Galactic cosmic radiation and solar particle events are composed of 1% Beta rays or electrons, 9% Alpha particles or Helium nuclei and 90% Hydrogen nuclei or protons.  In order to be feasible alternative, a shielding material needs to be inexpensive, easy to manufacture, moldable and easily integrated into the construction process. One such material fulfills these criteria. The proposal for NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) is to use a Boron-enhanced High Density Polyethylene (BE-HDPE). This material has been studied as a shielding source against neutron radiation due to its naturally Hydrogen-rich composition, which attenuates neutrons rather effectively.

In NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding, a Geiger counter is used to measure the amount of radiation that passes through the ISS during one minute, a data point is taken every 5 minutes over the span of one hour and data is taken again at four different 1 hour time intervals during a 24 hour time period, then repeated again for 4 days in a row. This value is used as the control value for the amount of radiation received by the ISS. A layer of BE-HDPE of a given thickness is employed to shield against radiation that enters the ISS. This is done using a small servomotor to move the BEHDPE into place over the detector and the data is collected again over four days. Multiple layers are added to determine the optimal thickness needed to attenuate the radiation to a safer level. A correlation is drawn between the position of the ISS and the maximum amount of radiation received.

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Applications

Space Applications
Spacecraft in low-Earth orbit receive some protection from solar and cosmic radiation thanks to the Earth’s magnetic field, although crew members on long-duration missions are exposed to radiation. Missions to the moon, Mars or asteroids will not be protected by Earth, and will require lightweight, durable shielding to safeguard human health. NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding contains a radiation monitor and an adjustable amount of boron-enhanced high-density plastic. Results characterize the radiation environment on board the International Space Station and determine the plastic’s ability to block high-energy particles, providing insight for future spacecraft construction.

Earth Applications
Boron-enhanced plastic is a lightweight yet dense material that can be deployed to protect people on Earth from harmful radiation. The material benefits workers in nuclear reactors and medical facilities. In addition, students from Awty International School in Houston developed the investigation, gaining experience in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

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Operations

Operational Requirements and Protocols
NanoRacks Module-41 operates autonomously once plugged into the NanoRacks Platform.  It is returned on SpX-5.
NanoRacks Module-41 needs to be oriented in such a way that the Geiger tube is facing away from the earth and toward space.  The Module is destowed immediately in order to have the maximum number of days possible to obtain data.  It is plugged into the NanoRacks Platform and operates autonomously for a minimum of 30 days (±7 days).  NanoRacks Module-41 returns on SpX-5.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

Information Pending

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Related Websites
Natioanl Design Challenge Program

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Imagery

image Image of the NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) prototype.  Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image Awty International School students building the NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) investigation. Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image Students from Awty International School solder their experiment, NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding).  Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image An Awty International School student drills a hole for the NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding) investigation.  Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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image Teacher Angela Glidewell and students from Awty International School design their experiment, NanoRacks-Awty-Radiation Shielding and Monitoring (NanoRacks-Awty-BE-HDPE Rad Shielding).  Image courtesy of Awty International School.
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