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 ")

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'- Ray Bradbury, 1952.

Automated Planet Finder Telescope Starts The Hunt
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'- Edmond Hamilton, 1936.

Spacesuit Z-2: NASA Wants You To Pick Their Next Design
'Al was hastily donning his space suit...'- Schachner and Zagat, 1931.

Can 'Dimers' Be Used For Star Trek's Long Range Sensors?
From 'Using Dimers to Measure Biosignatures and Atmospheric Pressure for Terrestrial Exoplanets'.

 

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

Augmented Reality Ship's Bridge From Rolls Royce
'... the immense, three-dimensional, minutely cubed model...'

Artificial Blood From Factories
This blood's for you.

Wrigley's Anti-Impotence Chewing Gum
'Chew one of these, Mr. Chip.'

Arcology Now Universal Constructor
'... the hotel direly wanted to exist.'

MisTable Fog Display Like SeaQuest DSV
Captain Bridger, a message is coming in.

Full-Size Invisibility Cloak Now Possible
'I donned it and drew its hood, and threw on its current.'

Bioengineered Muscle Grows In Mice
'Joeboys... shoulders bulging with grafted muscle.'

Self-Assembling Nanoparticles Move Like Tiny Gears
'Microscopic machinery, smaller than ants, smaller than pins, working energetically...'

PredPol Predicting Crime As It Happens
'All day long the idiots babbled...'

UK Internet Filters Default To 'Family-Friendly'
'People bought personalized filter programs...'

NASA Gives Away Rocket Code - For Dads
'The rocket thundered and leaped. The children danced in their hammocks, screaming.'

Automated Planet Finder Telescope Starts The Hunt
'I was near enough it now to set my automatic astronomical instruments to searching it for a habitable planet.'

Crabster CR200 Robot Prowls The Deep
'The handling-machine did not impress me as a machine, but as a crablike creature...'

Neither Dead Nor Alive - But Not In Suspended Animation
'...Can he be brought out of the cold-pack?'

Dolphin Whistle Translator
'Louis could hear the other translator discs whistling softly in Puppeteer, snarling quietly in the Hero's Tongue.'

Military Tech Inside Your Roomba?
What else can Roomba do?

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.