It’s always fun to see Gene Roddenberry’s fictional devices become reality. CNN reports on the latest:
You’ve answered the call for volunteers, signed up for the Mars trip and you are looking forward to boldly going to space, the final frontier, to explore a strange new world.
But wait. Recent evidence from NASA’s Curiosity rover mission to the Red Planet has revealed that astronauts on the round-trip would be exposed to high levels of radiation from cosmic rays and high-energy particles from the sun contained in solar storms. NASA says a Mars voyager would receive a radiation dose around 100 times the average yearly exposure on Earth.
Along with all the other risks of spaceflight, this would clearly be bad for your health — and it is proving difficult to find a solution.
Eddie Semones, a radiation health expert at NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center, told CNN that shielding to completely block the radiation danger would have to be “meters thick” and too heavy to be used aboard a spacecraft.
In contrast, with the release of the Star Trek movie “Into Darkness,” science fiction fans have once again got used to the ease with which Captain Kirk gives the order for “shields up” and the crew of the Enterprise being protected instantly from the hostility of space.
Perhaps though, a real Star Trek shield may no longer be science fiction — scientists at the UK’s Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) certainly think so.
Radiation ‘potential showstopper’
They have been testing a lightweight system to protect astronauts and spacecraft components from harmful radiation and working with colleagues in America to design a concept spaceship called Discovery that could take astronauts to the Moon or Mars…
[continues at CNN]