In the first part of the lesson, students calculate their yearly exposure rate to harmful high-energy radiation and cumulative effects over time. They then use the information to evaluate the various sources of radiation that are of greatest concern for them. In the second part of the lesson, students learn that spacecraft and other objects in space must be concerned with the same kinds of radiation to which humans are exposed. The MESSENGER spacecraft will orbit Mercury and be subjected to much more intense solar radiation than it would near Earth. Students discuss the notion that even though some of the radiation is needed to study the properties of the planet, too much of it can be quite damaging.


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