50 years ago, cosmic rays may have caused the Apollo astronauts to see the lights


Flashes of light are not dangerous for short space flightsScience newsMay 12, 1973

The light flashes and the streaks you see [Apollo] Heavy cosmic particles of high energy (HZE) passing through the eyes have long been attributed to astronauts…. A new report…concludes that particulate matter is not a serious hazard for short trips to the Moon or Earth-orbiting missions such as Skylab.

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The mechanism of flashes Described by the Apollo astronauts remains a mystery. The particles, which are components of cosmic rays, may emit radiation as they pass through part of the eye. Or maybe they’re tricking neurons into creating the illusion of light. Whatever flashes happen, they are still a problem for astronauts. In 2006, about 80 percent of NASA and ESA astronauts reported it You suffer from flashes. How this phenomenon affects the health of astronauts after months or years in deep space unclear. As NASA plans manned missions to Mars and the Moon, scientists are creating new ways to do so Protect astronauts from radiation (SN: 7/4/20 and 7/18/20, p. 18), such as portable magnetic shields that can deflect cosmic rays.

Helen Thompson

Helen Thompson is the multimedia editor. She has BAs in Biology and English from Trinity University and a MA in Science Writing from Johns Hopkins University.

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