Solar Flares, Proton Showers, and the Space Shuttle

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Science  28 May 1982:
Vol. 216, Issue 4549, pp. 939-946
DOI: 10.1126/science.216.4549.939


The space shuttle era will focus renewed attention on the hazards of the space environment to human habitation. The chief unpredictable hazard for astronauts is energetic proton radiation from solar flares. In some orbits, there is no reasonable level of shielding material that will protect shuttle occupants from potentially lethal doses of radiation. The effects of a solar flare that occurred druing the first flight of the Columbia are discussed and current flare research reviewed. The emphasis is on progress made during the recent international Solar Maximum Year toward understanding the origins of proton showers.