Why is NASA sending these strange female bodies to the moon?

Since the Apollo 17 mission in 1972, no human being has been on the Moon. The program crowns an American space sector then at its peak, in a context of the Cold War. It made it possible to develop many technologies which served the rest of NASA’s operations – and in itself, these multiple moon landings had something quite extraordinary when you consider that the on-board computer on which the life of the occupants of the capsule was ridiculously powerful compared to the least powerful smartphone available in 2022.

However, during all these years, only men (with a small h) went to the night star. No woman was part of the 6 successful moon landings of the program: you will notice that the famous sentence “It’s a small step for man but a giant leap for humanity” was indeed spoken by Neil Armstrong, commander of a crew consisting of Michael Collins and Buzz Aldrin, and that all subsequent missions were made up of male crew members.

These torsos baptized Helgar and Zohar will study the effect of cosmic radiation on the body of women

The inequalities between men and women were then still at a level from another time – and it seems that going to our Moon was finally much easier than instilling the desire for stars within the fairer sex. More than 50 years later, another humanity will go to the Moon. And it is obvious that it is no longer a question of exclusively retaining men for the trip. Beyond the first crews, NASA and its partners really intend to democratize space as much as possible.

But there is a problem: the surface of the Moon is bombarded by solar winds, highly radioactive charged particles against which the geomagnetic dynamo of planet Earth effectively protects us. However, there is no equivalent lunar magnetic field – and therefore, all missions to the Moon, even if we manage to build protected habitats, involve thinking about radiation. The Apollo missions made it possible to collect a wealth of details on the absorption of radiation by the body of the male sex.

Nasa Zohar Helgar lune artemis

Zohar and Helgar © Nasa

But no similar data exists for the moment for the body of women who should soon be numerous to set foot on the lunar soil. That’s why NASA designed these strange dummies, named Helgar and Zohar. These torsos don’t look very realistic from the outside. And yet they contain materials analogous to the bones, flesh and organs of an adult woman. All connected by more than 10,000 sensors and radiation detectors.

The idea is to integrate these mannequins into the Artemis 1 mission which must be launched by the end of 2022. Helgar and Zohar will go around the Moon, then return to Earth. One of the bodies will be covered with special radiation protection. There will also be a 3rd model aboard Artemis 1 – whose mission is to collect data on the vibrations and the number of G whose occupants of the Orion capsule will have to undergo.

The very first manned Artemis mission, Artemis 2, is scheduled to launch in 2024. This phase will both determine whether or not women are at increased risk of contracting cancer in space and develop the technologies needed to prevent the problem by upstream of the first manned flight.

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