Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsAstronomy & Space · 4 months ago

What were the "high Z particles" encountered by the Apollo 11 crew?

"I remember as I began to make an attempt to go to sleep and all of the sudden I would see a... a flash somewhere, and before I could turn or get my eye on the flash it was gone.  Now, the first impression was, well, something just penetrated the inside of the spacecraft.  And so I asked Neil and Mike and Neil said 'yeah I saw about a hundred of them.'" is what Aldrin said.

4 Answers

  • 4 months ago

    They were later found out to be Cosmic Waves

    Ever lie in bed and close your Eyes to see little Flashes ?

    It is the Same thing, no harm in them

    They were in worse danger going through Earth's Van Allen Belt

    Minimum Shielding, the Outer skin of the craft was just 1 mm thick

    They relied on their Velocity

  • 4 months ago

    High Z particles are subatomic particles with a high "atomic number". In other words they are the nuclei of heavy atoms such as iron, which have been accelerated to near light speed by poorly understood processes in the distant universe.

    These particles are not as common as most cosmic radiation, which consists mostly of protons, but they do an enormous amount of damage when they pass through living tissue, because they leave behind a dense ionization trail as they go clean through tissue.

    When they tear through the brain, eyes, or optic nerve they produce the sensation of flashes of light, by an unknown mechanism. It is probably true to say that the more flashes, the more damage is being done.

  • 4 months ago

    They were caused by cosmic rays passing through the astronauts' eyes, but it's not certain what the mechanism was.   It could be due to Cerenkov radiation or direct stimulation of the retina or optic nerve.

  • Clive
    Lv 7
    4 months ago

    Cosmic rays.  We'd see them on Earth if the atmosphere and the Earth's magnetic field didn't divert or block them.

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