posted on Nov, 11 2014 @ 10:50 PM
This came from spaceweather today
RADS ON A PLANE: On Nov. 11th, Dr. Tony Phillips of spaceweather.com flew across the USA to attend a science communications meeting in Washington DC.
As an experiment, he decided to take a radiation sensor onboard the plane with him. This is the same sensor that Earth to Sky Calculus routinely flies
to the stratosphere onboard Space Weather Buoys. The results were eye-opening. During the apex of his flight to DC, cruising 39,000 feet above the
desert between Reno and Phoenix, he recorded a dose rate almost 30 times higher than on the ground below:
Another way of saying it: In a single hour flying between Reno and Phoenix, the passengers were exposed to a whole day's worth of ground-level
radiation, similar to what a person absorbs when they get an X-ray at the dentist's office. That's not a big deal for an occasional flyer, but as
NASA points out, 100,000-mile frequent fliers can accumulate doses equal to 20 chest X-rays or about 150 dental X-rays. Lead aprons, anyone?
The sensor Phillips carried onboard detects X-rays and gamma-rays in the energy range 10 keV to 20 MeV. These energies span the range of medical X-ray
machines and airport security scanners. Indeed, when the sensor passed through TSA security at the airport, the sensor began to buzz loudly, signaling
a heavy dose inside the luggage scanner. TSA agents congregated around the device to investigate, and they were very interested when Phillips
explained its function. Several of them were curious about how much radiation they themselves were absorbing in the vicinity of the security scanners.
A quick scan of the area revealed no obvious danger.
After boarding the plane, Phillips monitored radiation levels closely. Dose rates tripled within 10 minutes of take-off and remained high for the
duration of the flight. The higher the plane flew, the more intense the radiation became, and you could track changes in altitude by watching the RAD
numbers on the LED display go up and down.
This simple experiment shows that space weather can touch us even when the sun is relatiively quiet. There was no intense solar or geomagnetic storms
in progress during the flight, just a regular drizzle of cosmic rays reaching all the way down to aviation altitudes. Imagine what an actual solar
storm could do....