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Astronaut poo as radiation shield

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The man and woman aboard the Inspiration Mars mission set to fly-by the Red Planet in 2018artx_video.gif will face cramped conditions, muscle atrophy and potential boredom. But their greatest health risk comes from exposure to the radiation from cosmic rays. The solution? Line the spacecraft's walls with water, food and their own faeces.

"It's a little queasy sounding, but there's no place for that material to go, and it makes great radiation shielding," says Taber MacCallum, a member of the team funded by multimillionaire Dennis Tito, who announced the audacious plan earlier this week.

McCallum told New Scientist that solid and liquid human waste products would get put into bags and used as a radiation shield – as well as being dehydrated so that any water can be recycled for drinking. "Dehydrate them as much as possible, because we need to get the water back," he said. "Those solid waste products get put into a bag, put right back against the wall."

Food too, could be used as a shield, he said. "Food is going to be stored all around the walls of the spacecraft, because food is good radiation shielding," he said. This wouldn't be dangerous as the food would merely be blocking the radiation, it wouldn't become a radioactive source.

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn23230-mars-trip-to-use-astronaut-poo-as-radiation-shield.html?cmpid=RSS|NSNS|2012-GLOBAL|online-news

I can see the conferences after the trip already, astronauts nervously avoiding eye contact... :whistle:

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I think I begin to see why Dennis Tito & co. have been rather coy about what they intend to do about radiation shielding for their Mars mission. It makes sense, really. Organic materials can make good radiation shields. I see this still isn't sufficient to shield against solar flares. The idea of keeping the rocket body aligned between the crew section and the Sun is an innovative idea.

Better radiation shielding for long missions might be possible if they could match speed and trajectory with a small asteroid that passes near Earth, then later passes near Mars. They could position themselves in its shadow, and ride along with it, protected from the worst that the Sun could offer.

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The idea of keeping the rocket body aligned between the crew section and the Sun is an innovative idea.

On the contrary, it is an idea that goes back to Apollo. Had an Apollo mission been caught in a solar flare they would have pointed the back end of the service module towards the sun, using the service module and the CM heat-shield for protection.

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So are the Tin foilf hats going with these First Mars trippers?

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On the contrary, it is an idea that goes back to Apollo. Had an Apollo mission been caught in a solar flare they would have pointed the back end of the service module towards the sun, using the service module and the CM heat-shield for protection.

Thanks, Waspie Dwarf. If I ever heard that about the Apollo missions, I'd long ago forgotten it.

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Posted (edited)

You wouldn't want the plastic bags to break and have Mr Hanky floating around the cabin. :w00t:

Edited by CRIPTIC CHAMELEON

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Posted (edited)

They propose to dehydrate the waste (and reuse the water in it, too) so probably not as bad as it sounds, as far as storing it is concerned.

Edited by bison

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