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How to Build a Deflector Shield for Deep Space Travel

April 25, 2013, 4:15 PM

What's the Latest Development?

As space agencies and private industry ask what it will take to send humans to Mars, one issue comes up time and again. The issue is solar radiation. A solution to solar storms, which have the ability to decompose our DNA in a matter of days, is a deflector shield much like the one used by the Starship Enterprise. To create a deflector shield, scientists have proposed placing superconducting coils on the sides of a spacecraft. "Once coils are cooled down to extremely low temperatures using liquid helium, and then charged up with a very high electrical current, they would generate a magnetic bubble-like field around the ship." 

What's the Big Idea?

The Earth's magnetosphere protects all terrestrial life from the Sun's intense radiation and even extends to cover the International Space Station. In fact, only during the moon missions have humans left the magnetosphere. And during these trips, astronauts were lucky not to suffer the effects of a random solar flare. So whether or not a Mars mission is attempted, we will still need to raise deflector shields even if human space transport is limited to the relatively more convenient destination of geostationary orbit. "If this is the case, then astronauts may well be talking about different type of final frontier: magnetic shields and physical materials covering the walls of their spacecraft."

Read it at BBC Future

Photo credit: Shutterstock.com



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