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 ")

Asteroids Threaten Earth? New Study Details Laser Ablation Method
'This obelisk is one huge deflector mechanism...' - Gene Roddenberry, 1968.

Martian Concrete, Rich In Sulphur, Made After Arrival
'We have been mining steadily, and making some photocells...' - John W. Campbell, 1951.

NASA's Asteroid Redirect Mission
'[Asteroid] Eighty-eight received a series of gentle pats, always on the side headed along her course...' - Robert Heinlein, 1939.

Space Synthetic Biology Grand Challenges
'What better purifying machine is there than a plot of grass?' - George O. Smith,

 

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

Denisovans, Neandertals... And Us?
'But in far realms, among strange hominids, you couldn't shun each other, either.'

Patented! Google's Autonomous Delivery Trucks
I hope Google's trucks can find my house!

3 Parent Embryos Approved By Bioethicists
' A tkan merely courts a mlenb and is attracted to a good guur...'

DIY Armed UAV (Toy)
'Each a television eye and a sonic stunner...'

Tired Of Speeders On Your Block? DIY Speed Tracker!
'There is no danger of a vehicle's speed exceeding that allowed in the section in which it happens to be...'

Centriphone Whirling Selfie Camera
''Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me,' he told it...'

Eagles Vs. Drones
'Moon bird's view was... partly blocked by the pyramid, so that he did not see the bird-things dark against the brilliant sky...'

SCiO Scanner Wants You To Be Spock
Almost as easy as a tricorder?

Self-Adapting Composite Heals Itself
'...Could seal the punctures that grain-of-sand-sized meteors might make.'

Rigid Clothing, Or Wearable Furniture?
'Earth's scientists solved the problem to some extent by devising rigid metallic clothing...'

Swarming Intelligent Aquatic Surface Robots Ahoy!
'A remote-controlled emulsion, as it were, with uniform center...'

SuitX Cheap Medical Exoskeleton
'... standing on two corrugated-soled titanium footplates...'

Harvesting Energy From Internal Resonance
'Sometimes a man has a windmill on his roof...'

Sticker Harvests Energy From Your Skin
Another way to harvest power from the body.

Twitter Sarcasm Detected By Computer
Seriously?

Myo-Controlled Prosthetic Arm
'Sensitive actuators touch the tendons in your right wrist.'

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.