The latest data from NASA's Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter suggests that plastic could protect astronauts on deep space missions against radiation hazards.
The finding could help reduce health risks, according to space scientists from the University of New Hampshire and the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI).
"This is the first study using observations from space to confirm what has been thought for some time — that plastics and other lightweight materials are pound-for-pound more effective for shielding against cosmic radiation than aluminum," said Cary Zeitlin of the SwRI Earth, Oceans, and Space Department at University of New Hampshire, and head of the research.
"Shielding can't entirely solve the radiation exposure problem in deep space but there are clear differences in effectiveness of different materials."
The research findings are based on observations made by the Cosmic Ray Telescope for the Effects of Radiation on board the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter.