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 ")

Tracking Spinning Space Junk
'Loose nuts and bolts... had been accumulating in Earth orbit'- Arthur C. Clarke, 1978.

The Amazing Gravity-Assisted Journey Of Rosetta
'...We used the [moon's] attraction to give us additional starting speed'- Ray Cummings, 1930.

Hayabusa-2 Asteroid Cannon Strategy From 1950's SF Novel
'Fire streaked in a thin line from the muzzle of a cannon-like tube...'- EC Tubb, 1958.

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

 

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

Tracking Spinning Space Junk
'Loose nuts and bolts... had been accumulating in Earth orbit'

Baidu Kuaisou Dune Poison Snooper Chopsticks
'Unobtrusive inspections with... snoopers... Will it be chaumas - poison in the food?'

Crystalized Light Created At Princeton
'It will be matter, matter made of light...'

The Amazing Gravity-Assisted Journey Of Rosetta
'...We used the [moon's] attraction to give us additional starting speed'

AirDog Auto-Follow Drone Captures Your Awesomeness
'Tight mid-shot and pull out on but behind me...'

Dell's Venue 8 7000 Tablet With RealSense Depth-Mapping
Focus on any part of a picture later.

Google's Cartographer Backpack For Indoor Mapping
'He reached to unsnap the cartograph from his belt.'

T-Mobile Sues Huawei Over Button Pushing Robot Idea From The 1930's
'Not the slightest change in their working betrayed the fact that they were now being directed by a machine instead of human beings.'

Hayabusa-2 Asteroid Cannon Strategy From 1950's SF Novel
'Fire streaked in a thin line from the muzzle of a cannon-like tube...'

Dyson 360 Eye Robot Vacuum Cleaner
'It vacuum-cleaned... or polished, consulting tapes in its idiot memory to decide which.'

First 3D Printer In Space?
'It can be mass-produced only in the orbiting factories...'

Google's Project Wing Will Find You
'Mechanical entities that flit at the edges of our vision, that can go anywhere, that are in our very midst...'

3D Printed Space Pizza For Astronauts
Put those butcher knives aside, and let me save that meal!

World's First Rapid 3D Nanoscale Printer
'Down, to the limit imposed by the ultimate indivisibility of the atoms themselves...'

Ralph Lauren Polo Tech Shirt
'It can feel your heartbeat...'- Rudy Rucker, 1988.

Smartphone Holographic Displays In 2015
If Sith Lords can have one...

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.