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New proposal could better protect space crews from radiation during long-term missions  (Source:
NASA believes active electrostatic radiation shielding is the best form of radiation protection during long-term missions

NASA is searching for a potential partner in the development of a proposal for radiation shielding during long-term space flights.

Radiation protection currently used, which is based on materials shielding, has several issues that need to be addressed and improved before it can be utilized in space. A major issue is that current materials shielding does not fully prevent long-term exposure to radiation. There is also a lack of data and studies associated with long-term tissues exposure to radiation with materials shielding in place, which further hinders any progress for this particular technology. In addition, cost is a problem that prohibits the use of current radiation protection for long periods of time. 

To address the above-mentioned problems, NASA is looking for candidates who would like to create a proposal along with NASA scientists and engineers. More specifically, NASA would like a potential partner that can develop a proposal that will utilize active electrostatic radiation shielding, which is believed to be the best radiation protection for long-term missions. This active electrostatic radiation shielding should make use of state-of-the-art evolutionary materials shielding technologies as well, according to NASA's specifications. 

Active electrostatic radiation shielding stops ions from hitting a spacecraft, which reduces unknown harmful effects due to long-term radiation exposure by 70 percent for galactic cosmic rays. As far as solar particle events go, the use of active electrostatic radiation shielding "practically eliminates" it. 

Those looking to work with NASA LaRC must have expertise in assessments of radiation exposure dose, experience with modeling and simulation, fabricated expandable structures for space-related needs, and have worked with electrons accelerators and charged ions. Those looking to work with the NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), where the NASA Research Announcement (NRA) "solicits" studies that research mission, system or architecture-related concepts, must be innovative and very early in development when it comes to the validation of active electrostatic radiation shielding. 

Partners will be chosen based on experience, past performance, technical capability, key personnel availability and demonstration of work on modeling and simulation, fabricated expandable structures for space-related needs, electrons accelerators and charged ions. If chosen, partners will be expected to create electrostatic active radiation shielding configurations, make simulation investigations, assess exposure for these configurations, fabricate expandable structures and prepare laboratory validation. 

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RE: The burning question...
By FITCamaro on 3/22/2011 8:38:01 PM , Rating: 5
Sounds like a charged electrostatic field generated around the outside of the ship. Or perhaps along the hull of the ship.

Now if they can just make it fend off the disruptors of those pesky Romulans and Klingons.

RE: The burning question...
By Nightbird321 on 3/22/2011 9:16:27 PM , Rating: 2
Too early for force fields, probably polarized hull plating :)

It would take too much energy and internal space to create an electro-magnetic radiation bubble like the one our rotating molten core creates for the earth.

RE: The burning question...
By randomly on 3/23/2011 8:52:55 AM , Rating: 2
I have a vague recollection from a study that to design an effective magnetic shielding system would weigh in the ballpark of 1600 metric tons (4 times the mass of the ISS) and be on the order of 100 meters across. That's using superconductors and including power supply. It's physically huge and would have to be assembled in space.

This may only be feasible for a large habitat. A spacecraft may be better off mass wise using passive shielding (hiding behind liquid hydrogen tanks, water, and/or plastics).

RE: The burning question...
By DougF on 3/23/2011 4:36:12 PM , Rating: 2
How about a Mini-magnetosphere?

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