Astronaut Chris Hadfield explains the CurioCity RaDI-N2 & You project results

Maggie Maclellan
26 February 2013

Photo: Chris Hadfield/NASA via Canadian Space Agency

As classrooms across Canada submit data for Let’s Talk Science’s CurioCity RaDI-N2 & You action project, interesting results are being revealed. Let’s Talk Science discovered that Canadian Space Agency astronaut Chris Hadfield receives hundreds of times more neutron radiation exposure in space than classrooms do on Earth. So we decided to get some answers from the man himself.

Late last week, Let’s Talk Science asked Astronaut Hadfield what the current project results mean for him and other astronauts.

Let’s Talk Science: Let’s Talk Science’s CurioCity RaDI-N2 & You action project has found that you are exposed to hundreds of times more radiation in space than on Earth. Are you surprised by that number? What does it mean for astronauts?

Astronaut Chris Hadfield: The Earth protects us well from the radiation of our Sun and the billions of other stars. Partly it's due to the Earth's magnetic field, and partly the atmosphere. Here on Space Station, though, we get no atmospheric protection, so we absorb much more radiation than people at sea level.

That's not a surprise - we studied it, and were well briefed by the Space radiation group and doctors pre-flight. And even though it's higher, we don't think it has a significantly increased risk of causing cancer or cataracts. In perspective, too, we face many risks in being some of the first explorers to leave Earth - rocket failure, Space Station fire, meteorite impact and depressurization, etc. Radiation is simply one of them.

It's important to understand risk as well as we can, though, for our own health and for all who follow. RaDI-N2 is an elegantly simple and very precise way to measure the real radiation that exists, and thus how best to protect astronauts from it. Thanks to RaDI-N2, future spaceships will be safer, as we head deeper and deeper into the cosmos.

For more questions and answers with Astronaut Chris Hadfield, watch a live downlink with Astronaut Hadfield from the International Space Station on March 11th. Let’s Talk Science is hosting the live event with classes participating in the CurioCity RaDI-N2 & You project at Bert Church High School in Airdrie, Alberta. The event will be broadcast on CurioCity between 11:30am – 1pm EST.

Have a question for one of the Canadian Space Agency astronauts about the CurioCity RaDI-N2 & You action project results? Send your questions to with your name, grade, school and email before Sunday, March 10th. Watch for some of the questions and answers to be posted on the CurioCity RaDI-N2 & You project pages. While we will do our best to get all the questions answered, we cannot promise an answer to all submitted questions.

Related Information

View the Results so far from the RADI-N2 Action Project Learn more about the project, including a map of our participants Watch the CBC Interview with one of our teachers & students participating in the project Watch Astronaut Chris Hadfield talk about RADI-N2 & You

Maggie Maclellan

Maggie MacLellan is a Communications Officer with Let's Talk Science.

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