The Michigan Bicentennial Archive team, M-BARC, has the unique opportunity to create a vessel that will be exposed to space radiation for one hundred years. Considering that the advent of space exploration only began halfway through the last century, no spacecraft has been exposed to space radiation for as long M-BARC’s will be.
Initially, our team wanted to put organic material into the M-BARC time capsule and attempt to shield it from radiation to preserve it for the tricentennial celebration. After considering the inevitability of the radiation that the spacecraft would be exposed to, we came up with a better idea: let the M-BARC time capsule serve as a 100-year radiation exposure experiment.
Our team is currently working to develop an experiment in which DNA and organic material will be sent up with the satellite and stored inside it for 100 years. The resilience of DNA is an attribute in this case, but sequencing DNA after such a long time may prove difficult. It can be predicted with some accuracy what might happen to organic material after 100 years of space radiation, but no experiment of this magnitude has been carried out yet.
As the experiment is developed, these challenges will be considered; as the spacecraft is developed more, the size and scope of the radiation experiment will be solidified.