Mars-Bound Instrument Detects Solar Burst's Effects

Mars Science Laboratory Spacecraft During Cruise, Artist's Concept This is an artist's concept of NASA's Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft during its cruise phase between launch and final approach to Mars. The spacecraft includes a disc-shaped cruise stage (on the left) attached to the aeroshell. The spacecraft's rover (Curiosity) and descent stage are tucked inside the aeroshell. Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech
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January 27, 2012

The largest solar particle event since 2005 has been detected by the radiation- monitoring instrument aboard the Mars Science Laboratory spacecraft, on its way from Earth to Mars.

The Radiation Assessment Detector, inside the mission's Curiosity rover tucked inside the spacecraft, is measuring the radiation exposure that could affect a human astronaut on a potential Mars mission. It has measured an increase resulting from a Jan. 22 solar storm observed by other NASA spacecraft. No harmful effects to the Mars Science Laboratory have been detected from this solar event.

For more information about what effects the radiation detector has measured, visit: http://www.swri.org/9what/releases/2012/rad-solarstorm.htm .

Guy Webster 818-687-7708
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
Guy.webster@jpl.nasa.gov

2012-028



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