A group of young professionals from the UniversityDrake in Iowa (USA) is developing a magnetic shield, designed to protect against the effects of deadly levels of cosmic radiation when flying into deep space, for example, on the same Mars. Their project MISSFIT (Magneto-Ionization Spacecraft Shield for Interplanetary Travel, Spacecraft Shield with Magneto-Ionization for Interplanetary Travel) implies installing a powerful magnetic shield on the spacecraft, which, like the Earth’s magnetosphere, will protect astronauts from high-energy particles, reports Space .com
In addition, the protection system includes “passive” shielding to simulate the ionosphere of the second layer of Earth protection.
With a small financial supportNASA Aerospace Agency, students who have developed a prototype of a protective installation, are already conducting its tests and experiments on passive shielding, which will protect astronauts from the effects of highly charged gamma rays. The objective of the project is to solve the key security problem that delays NASA’s potential mission to Mars: the long-term effects of interplanetary radiation.
The group is currently experimenting with a number of radiation-blocking tissues that may be light enough to be installed on a spacecraft.
“We are working on these tissues by radiation. Then we calculate how many particles the layers of fabric could block, ”says one of the developers of the MISSFIT project.
According to the experimenters, this long processdata collection and statistical analysis will help determine the most effective material that would be appropriate to cover the spacecraft. But the fabric in this defense is not the most important thing.
Students assume that a possible NASA spacecraft associated with Mars will be a more or less long cylinder rotating to create artificial gravity.
“At the ends of the capsule, we propose to install two superconducting magnets, which will be powered by two compact nuclear reactors,” say the developers.
Magnets will not deflect gamma rays. But they can force charged alpha particles — another component of the cosmic rays that, when the spacecraft is irradiated, will create X-rays. They will begin to move to the ends of the spacecraft, which will be closed by two “domes” of material filled with a mixture of ionized gas, which simulates the Earth’s ionosphere.
When passing through this ionized gasalpha particles will lose energy in a process similar to that which creates auroras in the ionosphere near the North and South poles of the Earth. The developers are not yet sure how powerful the magnets should be, but they think that small nuclear reactors can provide the necessary power (by the way, the development of such facilities is already underway).
Scheme of nuclear magnetic shield MISSFIT
Over the next couple of years, the development teamMagnetic-nuclear protection of spacecraft for deep-space missions is going to publish full information about its project and hopes to receive additional grants to continue development.
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