How Texas A&M has informed space research since before the Moon landing

COLLEGE STATION, Tex. (KBTX) - In celebration of 50 years since the United States put a human on the Moon, KBTX is looking at a variety of ways that Texas A&M University research is continuing the efforts of NASA today.

At the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute, researchers with the College of Science use the university's two particle accelerators, or cyclotrons, to study how radiation affects electronics that might be sent into outer space.

It's something Texas A&M has been doing since before the Moon landing.

"The particle accelerator first accelerated beam in 1967," said Sherry Yennello, the director of the Cyclotron Institute. As she explains, acquiring the first cyclotron was an effort by Earl Rudder to position Texas A&M as a top research university.

It worked.

Now, researchers at the Cyclotron Institute, among other projects, use the radiation from the cyclotron to "see how [electronic components] survive in a radiation field, so they can be assured that when those components go to space, they'll be able to survive," said Yennello.

NASA uses this research to directly inform decisions about safe space travel.

For the full tour of the particle accelerator at the Texas A&M Cyclotron Institute, see the video player above.