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BRIEF: Do You Know Your In-Flight Radiation Exposure?

BRIEF: Do You Know Your In-Flight Radiation Exposure?

An app based on a flight-based study could let frequent fliers who travel near the North Pole track their radiation exposure.

Inflight-Greenland-TopnTeaser.jpg

Inflight image from high above Greenland.

Image credits:

Wasif Malik via Flickr

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CC BY-SA 2.0

Tuesday, December 13, 2016 - 12:15

Emilie Lorditch, Staff Writer

(Inside Science) -- During long flights crisscrossing the globe at high latitudes near the North Pole, there is another health risk for flight crews and passengers besides jet lag and deep vein thrombosis. It's radiation exposure.

In an effort to improve safety for everyone on the aircraft, a team of researchers from Space Environment Technologies in Los Angeles has been using a group of six instruments to study atmospheric radiation on commercial flights at aviation altitudes. During 258 flights over and near the North Pole Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) and Upper-atmospheric Space and Earth Weather eXperiment (USEWX) projects have made dose rate measurements -- the amount of radiation received over a given period of time -- using a microdosimeter which measures radioactive particles from the sun and outer space.

This week at the American Geophysical Union meeting in San Francisco, members of the team presented this information during a poster session which showed the possible future for this real-time radiation measurements. Passengers would have an app on their phone where the ARMAS data would be updated every 15 minutes (sent directly from instruments on the plane to the traveler's app). Anyone who uses the app would have data on their radiation exposure based on their flight history.

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Author Bio & Story Archive

Emilie Lorditch is the assistant news director at AIP.