Why did Apollo astronauts not know anything about the Van Allen radiation belts?

In the late 1950s/early 1960s, Dr. James Van Allen sent satellites carrying Geiger counters into space. When they got to about 1000 kilometers, they’d start to register abnormally high levels of radiation. “They were overwhelmed by this radiation."

Van Allen proclaimed that a human being could not survive this level of radiation damage.

How is it possible that Apollo 12 astronaut Alan Bean didn’t know he went into and past the Van Allen Belts? Mr Bean said he is not sure if he went far enough out to encounter the van Allen Belts? Think for yourself and join the journey towards the truth for all mankind.

Source Aricle: http://www.awe130.com/index.php/the-latest-news/24...

11 Answers

  • 7 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    1) Your account of Van Allen's description of the Van Allen belts seems to be highly fictionalised. I'm reading "The Geomagnetically Trapped Corpuscular Radiation", in which Van Allen (1959) describes the radiation belts which would come to bear his name. The Pioneer and Explorer satellites which first measured the radiation environment were anything but overwhelmed (detailed readings are provided in the article). He also describes a radiation environment which has low-energy particles which high fluxes, and high energy particles with very low fluxes. This is far from the sort of environment which a human cannot survive (at least for short periods) presuming they're in an aluminium capsule (which will stop the low-energy, high-flux particles).

    2) AWE130's video incorrectly describes the geometry of the Van Allen belts, particularly when it states that only Apollo encountered them. In practice, space missions past and present routinely encounter a low-hanging region of the Van Allen Belts known as the South Atlantic Anomaly. The ISS in particular passes through this region on a normal and frequent basis.

    3) Given that the Van Allen Belts are donut shaped, NASA used inclined transfer orbits to shoot the Apollo missions through thinner regions of the belts.

    Thus the probable answer to your question is that given what NASA knew about the Van Allen Belts at the time of Bean's mission, it simply wasn't thought to be a big deal (particularly to a non-scientist like Bean). They knew the astronauts would experience some radiation, but not enough to pose a discernible health hazard. Also, Alan Bean is looking pretty ancient in the video you linked. That might also account partly for the fuzziness of his recollection.

    @Harley: Good cherry-picking. I note you overlooked all of the cases over the decades where pressurised aircraft have actually survived explosive decompression, and you don't seem to be aware that atmospheric drag among the blown-out portion of the DeHavilland Comet had a tendency to peel the craft like a grape. You also seem to have missed the detail with Apollo 13 where its explosion occurred in a non-pressurised area of the craft. With this in mind, I can understand why you're a denier. Being a denier magically turns poor observation skills and scientific illiteracy into super-power.

    Oh. Feel free to cite examples where these "many scientists" who think that the Apollo crews should have suffered significant health effects from the Van Allen belts, Harley, ideally from peer-reviewed literature.

    Source(s): Van Allen, J. A. (1959), The geomagnetically trapped corpuscular radiation, J. Geophys. Res., 64(11), 1683–1689, doi:10.1029/JZ064i011p01683.
  • 7 years ago

    Information on Van Allen belts was well-known & widely disseminated by1969 when they landed on Moon crossing the belts on way. Further, the Astronauts normally put their lives in the hands of NASA engineers & the team that takes care of Astronauts' every aspect as if the lives of Astronauts are their own, in the same way a test pilot of a new aircraft puts his, in the hands of the design engineers of it. This amount of faith is necessary for the progress of the mission.This keeps the minds of Astronauts off the trivialities (including Life & Death) to concentrate only on the job at hand & mission. They are the trained performers, responding to the situations & no need to think of new possibilities, threats &all that. Astronauts knew of Van Allen radiation belts in sufficient detail & depth but take an attitude that it is someone else's job to protect their (Astronauts) safety & lives.

    If one cuts through the Van Allen radiation belts quickly (& the craft is heavily protected against any external corpuscular radiation) no harm would ensue. Hell of a lot of studies & experiments are conducted before, to ensure that beyond any shadow of doubt. Radiation level is measured & systems to counter it devised that is made possible as the aim is clear - to overcome a particular level of radiation.

    So I don't thin k it is an impossibility to cross the Van Allen radiation belts. That may not be the case for a Space Probe sent to penetrate Jupiter's environment, let's say. We will see it, when we come to it.

  • Warren
    Lv 7
    7 years ago

    Kfc and Harley are both profoundly ignorant. As most other answers have said, the spacecraft walls provided some shielding, and they travelled through the belts very quickly. James Van Allen himself said that the level of radiation in the belts presented no hazard at all to the Apollo crews, see the attached link. This is one of many lies promulgated by the moon landing hoax wackos to try to "prove" man never went to the moon. All they ever prove is just how truly ignorant they are.

    The real question is, "Why do the moon landing hoax morons know nothing about the Van Allen belts?"

  • The Van Allen belts are low level radiation and only dangerous after several hundred hours of exposure. The Apollo missions went through them in only a few hours. It doesn't matter if Alan Bean doesn't know exactly where they were. They were not a problem for the mission.

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  • 7 years ago

    The Van Allen Radiation Belts are of NO Concern to Space Travel. ONLY to conspiracy nut cases.

  • 6 years ago

    The astro-nots didn't know about the Van Allen belts because they never went through it. The astro-nots never left high altitude earth. Think about it. 1960's technology (batteries and computers) were insufficient to get a rocket off of the ground into orbit much less traverse space, land someone on the moon and safely get them back. It's actually ludicrous when you think about it. The National Assoc. of Space Actors are liars and thieves.

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    That doesn't look like the most reliable website.

    If you don't believe the moon landings were real, that's for you to deal with. I've had enough of it.

    EDIT: Most people don't seem to realise that the Apollo astronauts weren't scientists (apart from Schmitt on 17), and their training had to deal with what they were tasked to do on the moon. The van Allen belt wasn't an obstacle and posed no danger.

  • Eric
    Lv 5
    7 years ago

    Van Allen belt is too much overrated by conspiracy theorists.First,astronauts are partly protected inside a ship,and second,they didnt spend days in a radiation belt,but only a few hours.If an astronauts were outside of a ship,they would probably die in a few hours.They werent,so case closed.

  • 7 years ago

    yet another mystery about the apollo missions , comet aircraft in the 60s with MUCH thicker skins blew apart at 30000 ft yet apollo 13 survived an explosion in a vacuum and traveled 500000 miles intact , coincidentally re-igniting interest in the space program as it was, waning, many scientists have wondered how the astronauts survived the van allen belts and had no long term problems

  • Anonymous
    7 years ago

    Your head is made entirely of cheese. Your mom's name is bubba and you lick used golf balls for nutrition.

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