Space & Astronomy
Radiation could thwart future space travel
By T.K. Randall
October 24, 2014 · 21 comments
Cosmic radiation could prove fatal to astronauts. Image Credit: NASA/Pat Rawlings
Sending humans in to space is set to become more difficult due to cosmic radiation exposure.
One of the more understated dangers of manned space travel is the threat posed by cosmic rays entering our solar system from interstellar space.
While the sun's magnetic field usually offers some protection against this, our solar companion has been experiencing something of a quiet period lately and its effectiveness at shielding against cosmic radiation is at a minimum.
Here on Earth and up on the International Space Station our planet's own magnetic field protects us against cosmic rays, but for astronauts undertaking a trip further afield the problem could expose them to deadly amounts of radiation and make such a journey infeasible.
At current levels an astronaut on a mission to Mars will receive their maximum allowable radiation dose within as little as 100 days. Reinforcing a spacecraft with thicker walls might help to alleviate the problem but would make things more technologically challenging due to the added weight.
Ultimately a portable electromagnetic shield generator, something currently relegated to the realms of science fiction, may be needed before long term space travel can become a realistic possibility.
Source: New Scientist
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Mars, Sun, Cosmic, Radiation
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