NASA Seeks Partner in Active Electrostatic Radiation Shielding for Long Haul Space Missions
March 22, 2011 6:00 PM
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New proposal could better protect space crews from radiation during long-term missions
NASA believes active electrostatic radiation shielding is the best form of radiation protection during long-term missions
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
. 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: If they partner with...
3/22/2011 9:40:52 PM
Lead is a poor shielding material for cosmic rays and solar protons which are the major radiation threat in space. Lead is only effective for x-ray/gamma rays (photons). A thin lead shield in space is worse than no shield at all because cosmic rays are so high energy that a single collision with a lead atom produces a huge shower of secondary radiation.
It would take meters thick of lead to be effective against cosmic rays. Mass reduction is paramount for spacecraft, high mass shielding systems are just not practical.
Solar protons (high velocity hydrogen nuclei), and cosmic rays (various high velocity nuclei from hydrogen up to iron) are best shielded with the lightest weight atoms. Liquid Hydrogen being the best. Hydrogen rich plastics are another option and have more convenient physical properties but are not as effective at shielding.
Since nuclei are charge particles the other shielding options are magnetic fields and high voltage electrostatic fields, which is what NASA wants to pursue.
The whole problem is achieving effective shielding with a minimum of mass. Brute force doesn't cut it in space.
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