More about the Van Allen Belts than you really wanted to know


Is it impossible to travel to the Moon, because of the Van Allen Belt?
From: Peter Wingerter
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Area: Astronomy
Message ID Number: 958408099.As
Is there any truth to the rumor? Is it impossible to travel to the moon, because of the Van Allen Belt?
Peter Wingerter


This is an especially interesting question, though maybe more about psychology and epistemology than about astronomy or physics. Nevertheless, the same question comes up again and again, in one form or another, so it really is very important.
It has a number of possible answers:
The Apollo spacecraft passed through the Van Allen belt quite quickly, so that in the short time they were exposed, the astronauts did not receive a dose of radiation considered dangerous, at least not compared to the inevitable other risks in the mission.
This is the straightforward, scientific answer. It is correct, to the best of my knowledge and belief.