As NASA prepares to test a magnetic shield to protect ships against the heat on re-entry into the atmosphere, ESA (European Space Agency) works in a similar concept to protect the astronauts against space radiation.Efforts were concentrated on a project called SR2S (Space Radiation Superconducting Shield-Superconducting Shield against space radiation).
The first information about the project were disclosed last year by the LHC physicists, who joined the project to share their extensive experience in the use of superconducting magnets that will generate the anti-radiation shield.
Now the European team announced the completion of the Basic project, stating that “now have the knowledge and the tools needed to develop magnetic shielding to protect astronauts from radiation exposure caused by galactic cosmic rays”.
The choice of superconductor fell even on diboret of magnesium (MgB2) to generate the force field anti-radiation, as initially announced by the LHC.
The superconducting wires and cables shall be arranged so as to generate a field that engineers called “pumpkin structure”, due to the format of the lines of force of the shield.
“This is a configuration of active shield that is crucially take and therefore suitable for long-duration missions in deep space. The structure works by reducing the material crossed by the incident particles, thereby avoiding the generation of secondary particles and, by consequence, generating a shield more efficient” says the project’s release.
This “pumpkin shell” should generate a magnetic field 3000 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field, enough to project a force field of 10 meters around the ship, deflecting cosmic rays incident and thus protecting the astronauts inside.
The great design constraint was the weight of the structure of the force field generator.
since the addition of 1 kg mass spacecraft increases the cost of the mission as a whole at $ 15,000. However, in space the superconducting magnets will be in its natural environment, eliminating the expensive and heavy cooling equipment needed to keep them almost 200 Celsius in the cold of space, the ships will be naturally in temperatures approaching that.
“Can still take many years before this technology is ready to be deployed actively manned space missions to deep space, but more testing of technology will continue to be held in the SR2S short and medium term,” concluded the note.