OSU radiation detection method used by NASA

Saturday, August 13th 2005, 5:26 pm
By: News On 6

STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) _ A way to detect radiation exposure developed at Oklahoma State University was used by astronauts during the mission of space shuttle Discovery.

OSU researchers developed a technique called optically stimulated luminescence to measure radiation exposure to astronauts during space flight.

NASA funded the research led by Stephen W.S. McKeever, vice president for research and technology transfer at OSU, Eduardo Yukihara, assistant professor of physics, and Ramona Gaza, former graduate student now working for NASA's Johnson Space Center.

NASA's Space Radiation Analysis Group decided to use OSL as part of radiation badges worn by astronauts on Discovery. Gaza is setting up OSL facilities at NASA's Johnson Space Center.

McKeever said NASA will evaluate how the badges did on the space shuttle. Results will not be known for some time.

OSL uses luminescence emitted from a radiation-sensitive material to measure exposure. McKeever said the material used by the OSU group was aluminum oxide and NASA needed to make modifications to astronaut badges to accommodate the material.

The radiation-sensitive aluminum oxide is made in Stillwater at the crystal growth division of Landauer, a Chicago-based company that mass produces aluminum oxide crystals for about 1.5 million customers.

NASA accepted the first prototype modifications made to the badges by OSU's physics department using OSU's design.

Mike Lucas, manager of the physics and chemistry instrument shop, made additional component parts for NASA for the radiation badges as part of the OSL system. Parts shipped to NASA for the new badges were assembled by NASA for use on Discovery.

McKeever said NASA will use OSL and aluminum oxide as part of its astronaut radiation badges in future flights. In addition, as part of a large multinational consortium to estimate radiation doses inside the human body while in space, the OSU team is taking part in an experiment that is flying on the International Space Station.

Later this year, samples will return to earth on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft for analysis.