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danger to astronauts


During the Apollo program, the astronauts walking on the surface of the Moon were nearly hit by a solar storm on several occasions. A major flare happened between the Apollo 16 and Apollo 17 moonwalks. If any of the largest flares had happened during the walks, the astronauts could have been killed on the spot.


Light coming from the Sun takes just over 8 minutes to reach us. Some very energetic particles from solar flares travel at a large fraction of the speed of light. They reach us very quickly (anywhere from 15 minutes to a few hours after the flare). These high-energy particles present the greatest danger to astronauts.


The International Space Station is being assembled in orbit. This work will require several thousand hours of space walks by astronauts. If a solar flare or CME occurs during one of those space walks, it could be a serious health risk.

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