While traveling to Mars, Curiosity experienced space radiation levels exceeding NASA's career limit for astronauts. Curiosity's measurements of harmful radiation from the sun and other natural sources will help protect future explorers traveling to Mars or other deep space destinations.
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Curiosity's radiation assessment detector measures the two forms of natural radiation that could be harmful to deep space explorers. One form is galactic cosmic rays, which are particles from high-energy events, such as supernova explosions like the one seen here.
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Our Energetic Star
Our own star is the source of the other form of potentially damaging space radiation. Solar energetic particles are thrown outward by the sun during activity such as solar flare eruptions and coronal mass ejections.
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Safe in Space
Curiosity's radiation assessment detector, called RAD, took measurements on the flight to Mars and continues to take measurements on the surface. The RAD findings will be used to explore different approaches for safe human space missions and habitats, like the NASA Orion vehicle under development.