In August, NASA will launch two artificial women aboard the Orion spacecraft, Helga and Zohar, according to the Daily Mail. The ladies will travel from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to fly around the moon and demonstrate the risks that a woman's body is exposed to in space upon her return. The experiment they are participating in is called Matroshka AstroRad (MARE).
With their physique, “matryoshkas” resemble ordinary women. They are made of "variable density materials" - plastic that mimics bone and soft tissue. In areas of the body for which exposure to radiation is particularly unfavorable: "breast", "abdomen", "womb" and "bone marrow" - sensors are installed. Similar dummies are used in hospitals to quantify radiation for cancer treatment.
The Artemis I mission, which could last a month and a half, should be a test before NASA sends the first woman to the Moon in 2025. Matryoshka dolls were developed at the Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Cologne, where the first tests were carried out with them, including tests to determine the impact of vibrations to which they will be subjected during the launch of the Artemis I mission. The flight will show exactly how space radiation affects women astronauts on their way to the moon and what can be done to protect themselves.
When astronauts leave the Earth's atmosphere, they are exposed to radiation. However, traveling to Earth orbit or the ISS and going to the Moon differ in their radiative forcing. The ISS is in low Earth orbit and is protected by the Earth's protective barrier. Although this safety is relative: astronauts on the ISS are exposed to radiation levels 250 times higher than people on Earth. The Moon does not have a dense atmosphere or magnetic field like the Earth does, so there is no protection from radiation exposure. A 2020 study found that astronauts on the Moon would be exposed to 2.6 times more radiation than aboard the ISS.
Helga will fly to the moon unprotected, while Zohar will wear a vest designed to protect against radiation. By comparing the readings of the sensors, it will be possible to determine to what extent the vest can protect the astronaut from harmful radiation exposure. During the flight, there will also be a male mannequin, Campos, on board. It will be equipped with radiation sensors and sensors to record acceleration and vibration data.