NASA is launching a bizarre experiment that will see it send two plastic dummies to the Moon to test the impact of space radiation on women astronauts.
The mannequins, Helga and Zohar, will travel around the Moon for around six weeks on the Artemis I shuttle.
They will be used to test the effects of space radiation on female adult humans ahead of a mission to send women to the Moon.
While the mission is designed to eventually enable women to travel to the Moon in 2025, it will also mean that mannequins reach our nearest neighbour before an actual woman does—which may not be such a victory for feminism.
Designed to mimic female bodies, Helga and Zohar will be covered in around 10,000 special sensors . These will collect data on the effects of space radiation and be used to keep female astronauts safe on subsequent Moon missions. One of the mannequins will wear a radiation protection vest to test how effective it is.
The torsos won't get to walk on the Moon, but instead will be made to stay on the Artemis I shuttle.
The mission has been justified based on research which suggests radiation exposure is more likely to cause cancer and infertility in women.
The results will inform NASA's Artemis 2 mission around the Moon in 2024, followed by an actual Moon landing by 2025.
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In a statement, NASA said: "Astronauts on [the Space Station] are exposed to radiation levels about 50 times higher than that experienced by people on Earth.
"Farther from Earth’s magnetic field and into interplanetary space, the level of radiation exposure during exploration missions could be much higher – up to 150 times more.
"Human beings exposed to large amounts of radiation can experience both acute and chronic health problems ranging from immediate radiation sickness to developing cancer in the future."
NASA is yet to confirm when Helga and Zohar will embark on their trip to the Moon.
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