CERN has some strange projects coming up, including building spaceship shields to protect astronauts from dangerous radiation.
From Popular Mechanics:
BYPASS THE CENSORS
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Cosmic rays are one of the gravest threats space agencies have to contend with for any future Mars exploration. Space is a harsh environment full of radiation that’s damaging to life like us. While it didn’t prevent a short-duration spaceflight like the Apollo missions to the moon, sending humans beyond the Earth-Moon system will require us to do a lot more to protect them.
CERN AND STAR TREK
But CERN thinks it can make a Star Trek-like shield system a reality. To that end, scientists there are testing the use of magnesium diboride superconducting magnets. The magnets are used in the Large Hadron Collider to create ultra-bright particle beams at a low temperature. Used in spacecraft shielding, they would create a sort of magnetosphere around the craft (likely the Orion capsule), simulating one of the mechanisms that prevents radiation exposure on Earth and in the upper atmosphere. The magnets would be coiled within the body of the craft, surrounding it with an artificial magnetic field.
“The MgB2superconductor seems to be very well placed to take part in this challenging adventure as, among its many advantages, there is also its ability to operate at higher temperatures (up to about 25 K) thus allowing the spacecraft to have a simplified cryogenic system.,” CERN communications editor Antonella Del Rosso said in a post on the idea.
We’re hoping they’re right, because radiation isn’t a danger only for traveling through space. Mars doesn’t have a magnetosphere as strong as Earth’s to protect lifeforms on its surface from space radiation, so advanced shielding technologies must be part of any survivable habitat on the surface of the Red Planet.
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