[ RadSafe ] AVIATION RADIATION EXPERIMENT--UPDATE
S L Gawarecki
slgawarecki at gmail.com
Fri Mar 11 20:11:23 CST 2016
En route to observe the March 9th total eclipse in Indonesia, the students
of Earth to Sky Calculus
conducted an unusual experiment in aviation radiation. Their plane flew a
great circle around the Pacific Ocean, skirting the Arctic Circle and
crossing the equator in a relatively short period of time. Onboard the
plane, they carried a cosmic ray balloon payload equipped with multiple
radiation sensors. This allowed them to "take a snapshot" of dose rates
over a wide range of latitudes. Preliminary results on a route map can be
viewed at http://spaceweather.com/ for March 12 (you may have to consult
the archive if you look at this later).
Throughout the trip, the plane was flying not far above 30,000 feet
altitude. Students measured a 2:1 ratio of dose rates, Arctic vs. equator.
Researchers have long known that Earth's magnetic field near the equator
provides a greater degree of protection against cosmic rays than Earth's
magnetic field near the poles. This experiment answers the question, "How
much greater?" (About 2 times.) It also builds upon Earth to Sky's ongoing
study <http://news.spaceweather.com/rads-on-a-plane-may-oct-2015/> of
aviation radiation which, before now, has been limited to latitudes inside
the continental USA.
Radiation inside airplanes comes from deep space. Galactic cosmic rays are
accelerated toward our planet by supernova explosions and other violent
events in the cosmos. They penetrate the walls of aircraft with ease and
have prompted the International Commission on Radiological Protection
(ICRP) to classify pilots as occupational radiation workers.
The students are about to return to the United States, following
approximately the same route in reverse. Will their preliminary results be
SLGawarecki at gmail.com
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