Deflector Shields For Spacecraft?

Deflector shields made of ionized gas are under development by British scientists. These Star Trek-style shields could be turned off or on depending on solar activity or other requirements.


(Spacecraft protected by shield [R. Bamford])

Astronauts who spend time in low earth orbit are mostly protected from radiation by the magnetosphere, Earth's powerful magnetic field. However, travelers to other planets will run the risk of exposure to cancer-causing radiation from the sun and other sources outside the solar system.

According to Dr. Ruth Bamford, of the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory in Didcot, UK:

"You don't need much of a magnetic field to hold off the solar wind. You could produce the shield 20-30 kilometers away from the spacecraft."

She presented the idea today at the Royal Astronomical Society National Astronomy Meeting in Preston, England. Researchers intend to create the "deflector shield" by generating a magnetic field and then filling the space around the craft with ionized gas. The magnetic field would hold the plasma in place. The same technique could be used to protect an installation on the Moon (which has no magnetosphere like the Earth's).

Once deployed, energetic particles encountering the plasma would be slowed down, sparing the occupants of the space craft or Moon installation. The Rutherford Appleton research team plans to build an artificial magnetosphere in the lab, and then eventually create a test satellite to see how the idea works in space.

As far as I know, some of the earliest thinking about how to protect the occupants of spacecraft from harmful radiation was done by early science fiction writers. John W. Campbell, wrote about a novel approach to the problem more than seventy years ago - see NASA's New Radiation Shielding First Proposed By John W. Campbell In 1936.

And speaking of Star Trek, one of the original episodes broadcast in 1967 highlighted one of the additional hazards of exposure to radiation in space - premature aging. See Radiation Aging - The Deadly Years In Space for details.

Just last year, an engineering undergrad named Daniella Della-Giustina was awarded a NASA Advanced Concepts Student Fellows Prize for suggesting that asteroids could be used as shields. This idea also has science fiction antecedents; Arthur C. Clarke proposed the same basic idea in 1960. See Undergrad Proposes Asteroids As Radiation Shields for the details on her proposal.

Read more about the space shield at the Shield to block radiation.

Scroll down for more stories in the same category. (Story submitted 4/18/2007)

Follow this kind of news @Technovelgy.

| Email | RSS | Blog It | Stumble | del.icio.us | Digg | Reddit |

Would you like to contribute a story tip? It's easy:
Get the URL of the story, and the related sf author, and add it here.

Comment/Join discussion ( 0 )

Related News Stories - (" Space Tech ")

Man-Made Space Leaf Creates Oxygen From Water And Light
'What better purifying machine is there than... grass?'- George O. Smith, 1942.

Revisiting A Cloud City On Venus
I've been looking forward to something like this since 1980.

'Windowless Cockpit' Like Star Trek's Patent Applied For
Wait - you thought Sulu had a window?

NASA's Warp Speed Starship Design
'As Earth's faster-than-light spaceship hung in the void between galaxies...'- John W. Campbell

 

Google
  Web TechNovelgy.com   

Technovelgy (that's tech-novel-gee!) is devoted to the creative science inventions and ideas of sf authors. Look for the Invention Category that interests you, the Glossary, the Invention Timeline, or see what's New.

 

 

 

 

 

Current News

New Material Is One Molecule Thick
'Hasan always pitched a Gauzy - a one-molecule-layer tent...'

Robot Swarm Obeys Commands
'What is the nature of this cloud? What is your opinion?'

AliveCor App Detects Heart Arrhythmias, Has FDA Approval
Works on humans and puppeteers.

Laws Of Robotics Rewritten for Health Care
A lot has happened in health care robotics since 1942...

Origami Robot Finally Self-Assembles, Walks On Its Own
Now shipping flat, but better than Ikea, because self-assembling.

A.L.O. Robot Butler Serves You At Aloft Hotel
'Her idea of what a butler-valet combo should look like...'

Mometum Machines Burgerbot
'One of these gorgeous eating places where we were served entirely by mechanical apparatus...'

Google Lobbies For Autonomous Motorcycles
'He had never ridden any motorized device that lacked onboard steering and balance systems.'

No Cages In Future Zoos Is Zootopia?
'The park... twisted through specimens from every inhabited planet of the known universe.'

Navdy HeadUp Display (HUD) For Your Car
'All displays are thrown on a mirror in front of you...'

Computer 'Aesop' Writes Fables With A Moral
'I handed Tony the master tape and he played it into the IBM'

Artificial Wombs - Ectogenesis Technology - Is On The Way
'Magnificent, aren't they? (Lama Su, in Star Wars II)

Robotic Exoskeleton For Shipyard Workers
'Earth's scientists solved the problem... devising rigid metallic clothing not unlike armor...'

Timeful Appointment App Learns, Optimizes Your Routines
'The [Daily Schedule program] suited its tone to his movements and the combined analysis of his psychophysical condition.'

3D Printing Your Science-Fictional Metals
I love science-fictional materials!

Bespoke Clothing In 30 Minutes
'He sat himself down in a sales cubicle and dialed the code number for kilts.'

More SF in the News Stories

More Beyond Technovelgy science news stories

Home | Glossary | Invention Timeline | Category | New | Contact Us | FAQ | Advertise |
Technovelgy.com - where science meets fiction™

Copyright© Technovelgy LLC; all rights reserved.