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Scientists Work To Produce 'Star Trek' Deflector Shields

Soulskill posted about a year ago | from the just-don't-give-out-the-prefix-codes dept.

Space 193

cold fjord writes "This might be useful. From CNN: '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 ... this would clearly be bad for your health — and it is proving difficult to find a solution. ... [S]hielding to completely block the radiation danger would have to be "meters thick" and too heavy to be used aboard a spacecraft. In contrast, ... 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. 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. "Star Trek has great ideas — they just don't have to build it," said Ruth Bamford, lead researcher for the deflector shield project at RAL. ... The RAL plan is to create an environment around the spacecraft that mimics the Earth's magnetic field and recreates the protection we enjoy on the ground — they call it a mini magnetosphere." Related: 'Deflector Shields' protect the Lunar Surface.'"

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193 comments

Make it so... (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131611)

Don't forget to be able to boost the shields with auxiliary, emergency and also war drive power... those are always used. Also extendable to protect other ships and maybe a functionality to raise the shields after a shot has been detected even if the "diplomatic" captain doesn't want to raise... since he is surely not going to die (maybe assimilated but no death)

Re:Make it so... (-1)

ArcadeMan (2766669) | about a year ago | (#44131749)

"war drive"?

Re:Make it so... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131827)

Worf: "You have a problem with dying FOR HONOR?"

Re:Make it so... (4, Funny)

djdanlib (732853) | about a year ago | (#44131947)

To seek out wi-fi and new civilizations

Re: Make it so... (4, Funny)

jd2112 (1535857) | about a year ago | (#44132059)

...and hot green alien chicks!

Re: Make it so... (2)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44132637)

...and hot blue alien chicks!

FTFY

Re:Make it so... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about a year ago | (#44132477)

As a bonus, Roddenberry's First Law states that you can use a main deflector dish to do anything, so if they succeed in building this technology then we can also look forward to faster-than-light travel, instantaneous communication across distances of galactic scale...

Star Trek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131619)

Why isn't it Star Wars shields?

Re:Star Trek? (4, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44131687)

Because Star Trek actually got it right that you would need shields for basic space travel, not just combat.

Well, sorta (5, Informative)

Moraelin (679338) | about a year ago | (#44131933)

Well, sorta. If you do enough technobabble and you're willing to count close enough as a hit, then getting it right isn't that hard.

Point in case, in ST's case the Navigational Deflector (emitted by the deflector dish) was actually supposed to protect against space debris, micro-meteorites, etc. (Still a good idea, mind you, because when you're moving even close enough to the speed of light, a single grain of sand packs more energy than a broadside from a 20'th century battleship.)

Dealing with particles via magnetic field was actually the job of the Bussard Collectors (you know, those red glowing things at the front of the nacelles), a.k.a., ramscoops. Which actually didn't deflect it, but collected all that mostly hydrogen in the ship's path.

So, yeah, if you make a complete hash of which did what, and how, and still call it a ST deflector shield, yeah, you can count it as a hit.

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." :p

(And yes, I'm a huge ST and SW nerd. I know, I know, I'll go not get laid now.;)

Re:Well, sorta (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132075)

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." :p

(And yes, I'm a huge ST and SW nerd. I know, I know, I'll go not get laid now.;)

HOLY SHIT That Jesus guy really COULD see the future! I'm sold, where's the nearest Christian conversion center?

Re:Well, sorta (1)

ebh (116526) | about a year ago | (#44132209)

Can this Mr. Jesus help me get to California?

Re:Well, sorta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132515)

YES, HE CAN! Read my newsletter to see how!

Re:Well, sorta (2)

isorox (205688) | about a year ago | (#44132363)

Well, sorta. If you do enough technobabble and you're willing to count close enough as a hit, then getting it right isn't that hard.

Point in case, in ST's case the Navigational Deflector (emitted by the deflector dish) was actually supposed to protect against space debris, micro-meteorites, etc. (Still a good idea, mind you, because when you're moving even close enough to the speed of light, a single grain of sand packs more energy than a broadside from a 20'th century battleship.)

Dealing with particles via magnetic field was actually the job of the Bussard Collectors (you know, those red glowing things at the front of the nacelles), a.k.a., ramscoops. Which actually didn't deflect it, but collected all that mostly hydrogen in the ship's path.

So, yeah, if you make a complete hash of which did what, and how, and still call it a ST deflector shield, yeah, you can count it as a hit.

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil." :p

(And yes, I'm a huge ST and SW nerd. I know, I know, I'll go not get laid now.;)

Yes, the Enterprise had several deflector dishes (main deflector for one) for moving things out of the way
Yes it had ramscoops for collecting things

It (at least the D, the greatest of all Enterprises) also specifically had low power navigational shields

Lasers can't even penetrate our navigation shields. Don't they know that?

Re:Well, sorta (3, Funny)

oPless (63249) | about a year ago | (#44132687)

Lasers can't even penetrate our navigation shields. Don't they know that?

Regulations do call for yellow alert.

Re:Well, sorta (1)

SuricouRaven (1897204) | about a year ago | (#44132517)

Those collectors are something vestigial. They are referred to by that name in TOS on a couple of occasions, but that's really it - the usual theory is that in early planning, they were part of a scientifically plausible propulsion system the ship was supposed to have in which interstellar hydrogen would be collected, used in a fusion reactor to generate power, and the remaining mass accelerated out the back at ridiculous speed. Such a propulsion system was quickly dropped for story reasons (No-one wants to watch if the ship takes fifty years to get to the next star system), in favor of the technobabble warp drive and a carefully not-defined 'impulse' engine all powered by an antimatter reactor. The old collectors remained on the ship models though, lacking purpose but still in place.

Re:Well, sorta (1)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44132693)

No, the bussard collectors were mentioned in the later series as well.

And I'm not 100% positive on this but I believe the power came from the dilithium crystals alone, and the antimatter reaction was simply used to generate the warp field.

Re:Well, sorta (3, Informative)

JoshuaZ (1134087) | about a year ago | (#44132699)

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

This is clearly much more than an endorsement of binary. This is clearly a moral condemnation of any error correcting code that works any way other than just repeating each bit some constant number of times. Hamming codes must be of the devil.

Re:Well, sorta (1)

Remus Shepherd (32833) | about a year ago | (#44133305)

But then by the same lax standard I can claim that Jesus endorsed binary code. Matthew 5:37: "But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil."

Binary code? It looks to me like Jesus is mandating the use of 4-bit ALUs. He was just a man of his time, and I think they only had RISC architecture back then. (Either that, or He played Minecraft way too much.)

Re:Star Trek? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131745)

http://i291.photobucket.com/albums/ll283/Frakker_77/SWvST.jpg

Re:Star Trek? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132565)

nice, very nice :)

Re:Star Trek? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132773)

How many damned scripts does it take to display an image in a web page? I still haven't been able to view this one after several minutes of effort and allowing questionable scripts to run. I guess I'll have to go with -1, over rated. Screw photobucket.

Picture (4, Informative)

daniel.garcia.romero (2755603) | about a year ago | (#44131635)

Amazing picture at the end of the article, be sure to not miss it.

Micrometeorites (1)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#44131675)

Now if only they could do something about micrometeorites. Sadly I don't think this technology will help there. Still, it is a great idea.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about a year ago | (#44131701)

If they're magnetized, it will.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44131761)

What are the actual odds of being hit?
Are they that frequent outside our ring of garbage?

Some amount of crew loss is going to be acceptable vs spending infinity dollars.

Re:Micrometeorites (4, Informative)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44131893)

Calculate the area of the 2D projection of a ship onto a plane perpendicular to its line of motion, multiply by the length of space traversed to get swept volume...

Once you realize that this volume is always going to be enormous for any inter-planetary travel, even for a really really tiny craft, then you stop wondering why sometimes a probe that we send out suddenly stops responding for no obvious reason.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44131923)

Once you realize space is mostly empty you might start wondering again.

Also your calculation makes no sense. It assumes that this whole volume must stay micrometeorite free, when only the volume the ship is in at that time has that limitation.

Re:Micrometeorites (0)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44132325)

Also your calculation makes no sense. It assumes that this whole volume must stay micrometeorite free

No it doesn't. Thats your assumption, and its illogical. You dont seem to realize that not making the assumption you are doesnt negate the point.

Hint: It doesnt matter what velocity the craft is going relative to any arbitrary reference frame, be it 0.001mm/s or 299792458km/s.. its still going to on average collide with the same amount of shit.

Now get off my lawn.

Re:Micrometeorites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132359)

It doesnt matter what velocity the craft is going relative to any arbitrary reference frame, be it 0.001mm/s or 299792458km/s.. its still going to on average collide with the same amount of shit.

By that logic, a craft with a velocity of zero that goes nowhere will never be hit.

The shit in space isn't sitting still for you.

Re:Micrometeorites (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132677)

That is, in fact, the exact opposite of where that line of logic takes you.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44132547)

That has nothing to do with what I said, good job.

Hint: it does not matter what velocity, it only matters the odds of actually encountering something.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

ultranova (717540) | about a year ago | (#44132797)

Hint: It doesnt matter what velocity the craft is going relative to any arbitrary reference frame, be it 0.001mm/s or 299792458km/s.. its still going to on average collide with the same amount of shit.

So what is the craft's swept volume in its own reference frame?

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44133217)

It doesnt matter what velocity the craft is going relative to any arbitrary reference frame, be it 0.001mm/s or 299792458km/s.. its still going to on average collide with the same amount of shit.

Everyone's being a dick about this but you actually just disproved your own thesis. Since there is no privileged frame, what you say here must be true. Velocity doesn't matter, so swept volume doesn't matter. A small craft is less likely to be hit than a large one, by the ratio of their *surface areas* alone, no matter the (constant) velocity, and neglecting gravitational pull from the craft itself.

Re:Micrometeorites (3, Insightful)

Cenan (1892902) | about a year ago | (#44132369)

Mostly empty isn't good enough at the energies involved. It really doesn't matter what the probability for an impact is, since it is almost always going to be > 0. Even at the relatively pedestrian speeds of highway travel, a tiny pebble to the windshield does huge damage if it hits right.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44132603)

If it only kills one out of every 100 crews, as an example, their made be no need to bother with additional expensive shielding.

We do not need a risk of 0, just acceptable rates of crew loss.

Re:Micrometeorites (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44132171)

And you realize that Voyager 1 and 2 are frigging miracles that they are still alive after making it through the Oort Cloud and the trashbin that is our interplanetary space.

Re:Micrometeorites (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about a year ago | (#44132253)

And you realize that Voyager 1 and 2 are frigging miracles that they are still alive after making it through the Oort Cloud and the trashbin that is our interplanetary space.

..or they were built to survive and operate while being turned into swiss cheese...

Re:Micrometeorites (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#44132769)

You mean the Kupier Belt. They're probably not even at the beginning of Oort Cloud yet. The Oort Cloud is supposed to go out as far as about 1 light-year from the Sun, and a purpose dedicated craft would probably take 30 years just to get to the beginning of it.

Re:Micrometeorites (3, Interesting)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44132785)

And you realize that Voyager 1 and 2 are frigging miracles that they are still alive after making it through the Oort Cloud and the trashbin that is our interplanetary space.

The Oort cloud is thought to extend out nearly a light year from the sun. Voyager 1 & 2 have most definitely not passed through it. But it's not like it's some super dense Star Wars style asteroid belt. You could fly a planet through it and not hit anything substantial.

Re:Micrometeorites (2)

tnk1 (899206) | about a year ago | (#44132629)

The ISS actually has an issue with micrometeorites hitting the station and making tiny jagged pockmarks which frequently cause problems with tearing fabric on spacesuits. The issue was dangerous enough that they needed to come up with some sort of clamp which allows the astronauts to place it over the damaged handles on the ISS exterior so that they could work without constantly degrading their suits with small tears.

So, yeah, micrometeorites are fairly common. Admittedly, this is still in the near range to Earth, but the solar system has enough of that stuff to cause problems on a trip.

And remember, while space is really, really empty, it is less empty inside the volume affected by a star, like the Sun, and even less empty in the inner solar system. Interstellar space, and intergalactic space, is what we're really talking about when we talk about being almost completely empty. In the solar system, there's always something going on that will cause some sand grained sized debris to eventually hit you. And since most things in the solar system actually happen at very high velocities, those sand grains start off as bullets and never slow down until they hit something (such as your spacecraft).

Pardon my ignorance (1)

rodrigoandrade (713371) | about a year ago | (#44131689)

Aren't space shuttles and (maybe) capsules (from, say, Apollo program) alredy shielded from cosmic rays and radiation somewhat? It's not like engineers and physicists didn't know about them before the Mercury program even was started.

Does it have anything to do with the length of the flight to Mars or the martian thin atmosphere not being able to filter them out?

Re:Pardon my ignorance (3, Informative)

Captain Hook (923766) | about a year ago | (#44131887)

Space shuttles are low earth orbit only, they never leave Earths Magnetosphere anyway.

Moon capsules did leave the Earths Magnetosphere but weren't shielded. They were protected by limited time in space (2 weeks at most) and luck that they weren't hit by decent solar storm.

Re:Pardon my ignorance (3, Insightful)

Mateorabi (108522) | about a year ago | (#44132215)

Obviously we must pour billions of dollars into this supper effective Luck shielding. If we can research enough Luck we don't need anything else.

Re:Pardon my ignorance (1)

lisaparratt (752068) | about a year ago | (#44132749)

One Zone of Absolute Fortune, coming right up!

Re:Pardon my ignorance (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44133173)

Obviously, layers of 'luck' shielding is the way to go.

Re:Pardon my ignorance (4, Interesting)

sjames (1099) | about a year ago | (#44132793)

No, they're not. The engineers and physicists knew all about cosmic radiation but there was nothing they could do about it. The shuttle does well enough since it stays within Earth's magnetosphere.

Apollo did leave the magnetosphere for part of it's mission and the Astronauts were exposed to radiation. They reported that they could see flashes of light believed to be caused by cosmic rays interacting with the fluid in their eyes. Had the sun flared at the wrong time, the crew would have been killed. Given the many risks of the Apollo mission, that was just one more and hardly the largest.

However, a mission to Mars with the crew in space for much longer can't take that approach.

star trek had two types of shields (5, Informative)

yincrash (854885) | about a year ago | (#44131725)

deflector shields (which was emitted by the deflector dish) which were low powered and meant to deflect small particles and radiation, and defensive shields which were to protect against weapons and were emitted by various shield emitters on the hull. The summary really badly conflates the two.

Re:star trek had two types of shields (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131815)

+1 NERD!

Re:star trek had two types of shields (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132577)

Geekish, not nerdish. Also (after checking memory alpha), wrong.

Re:star trek had two types of shields (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131971)

Actually, the Enterprise had three types of shields.

First was a set of low power static shields designed to deflect really small particles away from the ship during travel. Imagine a speck of dust striking the hull at full impulse speed.

Second was the deflector dish that emits a deflector beam designed to push bigger particles away from the ship during travel, particles too big for the static shields. Imagine a pebble striking the hull at full impulse speed.

Finally there are the main defensive shields used to shield the ship's hull from weapons fire and anything else the other two deflector systems cannot handle. It uses the most power and is implemented via shield emitters embedded throughout the hull.

No, it's four types (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132553)

You forgot about the "containment field" technology used in the medical bay, cell "doors", the shuttle bay doors, fire suppression systems, main corridors and Jefferies tubes for sealing off sections from vacuum, damage or intruders. Those are clearly smaller scale applications of the same technology.

Hell, for that matter, maybe it's 5, since I seem to recall that the holodeck uses the same sort of technology to give the hologram projections surfaces for the participants to interact with.

Re:star trek had two types of shields (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131973)

Correct, in ST:TNG they even refer to weak weapons "not even penetrating the navigational shields", meaning the navigational type is what prevented background radiation, micrometeorites, etc from hurting the ship or crew. However, they would need to raise the Defensive shields for some exotic phenomena, like being inside an unstable nebula or something.

Re:star trek had two types of shields (2)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44131979)

Informative? Deflector shields (which were emitted by the deflector dish) were high powered. They were able to shunt vast amounts of power into that thing during various episodes, far more than into any other subsystem including the drives themselves, to solve one problem or another. At relativistic speeds, or superliminal speeds in their case, the interstellar gas gets blue shifted to remarkable energy levels. It's like having a nuclear detonation just off your bow, only it's sustained.

Err, no. Both were deflector shields (3, Interesting)

Moraelin (679338) | about a year ago | (#44131981)

Err, no. Both kinds were called deflector shields, in the canon. See: http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Deflector_shield [memory-alpha.org]

The lower level one emitted by the navigationa deflector (a.k.a., deflector dish) dish was nothing else than a lower intensity force field, but still a deflector shield. (http://en.memory-alpha.org/wiki/Navigational_deflector [memory-alpha.org] )

In other words... (5, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about a year ago | (#44131731)

When in doubt, copy nature.

sounds reasonable (1)

v1 (525388) | about a year ago | (#44131771)

the reason physical shielding has to be so thick and dense is the particles are so small and flying so fast that they run through normal matter like it's not hardly even there. (besides the occasional hitting a bit of your dna and knocking the atoms around like a clean break on a pool table) Magnetic deflection would just reroute the HEPs around the capsule. Wouldn't require much weight, but may be a bit power hungry.

I don't know enough about magnetics though... I thought that it only takes significant energy to establish a strong magnetic field, and that unless it's interacting with (pulling/pushing) something, the "maintenance cost" is rather low? (and that you can recover a lot of that energy when turning off the magnet)

I suppose the problem then becomes how to keep the magnetic effects out of the inside of the capsule? Is that even possible?

Several recent space movies have played it like normal space exposure is no big deal unless there's an event like a solar flare that belches HEPs in their direction. Then all the dramatic klaxons go off and theyÂscramble to some purpose-built chamber that shields them until the storm is over. Don't we normally get hours of warnings on big CMEs? I think they're just rushing for the drama effect. Probably more of a "Hmm big CME just went off. Everybody meet up in the Round Room at 1800, pack a lunch, we'll be in there for at least five hours". Maybe something like that would be more practical, if possible. That would allow setting up a stronger magnetic field in a small area, relatively free of electronics and other metals normally required in a space ship.

Re:sounds reasonable (0)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44131845)

Why exactly do you need to keep the magnetic effects out of the inside of the capsule? Assuming you don't use magnetic storage or something.

Humans do not seem to be negatively impacted by fields of many Tesla.

Re:sounds reasonable (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44132221)

Feel free to make a coil of wire and then run a magnet through it while you touch the ends to your toungue.

I suggest wrapping about 50 feet of a single internal wire of cat 5 around a piece of PVC and then pass a magnet through it back and forth rapidly.

Electricity 050 introduction to wires level of stuff.

Re:sounds reasonable (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44132563)

We are not talking about moving the magnet field.

If you do that with a stationary magnet you will be very safe.

Basic high school stuff here.

Re:sounds reasonable (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44133133)

The shielding field can be DC or very low frequency, so that doesn't seem relevant. And even if it was a high enough frequency AC to be an issue, it seems like a solution would be to not build anything with a high enough coupling to that field to matter. If you are afraid some astronaut in their free time will rip out a bunch of wiring, try to make a coil, and then lick it, maybe we should make sure there are not batteries on board either that said astronaut could lick.

Obvious... (1)

DeBaas (470886) | about a year ago | (#44131801)

Actually recreating the earths magnetosphere seemed so obvious, that the fact that they weren't doing this so far gave me the impression that there was something blocking this or nearly impossible.
 

Re:Obvious... (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44132005)

Power requirements.

Done 15 years ago (2)

SydShamino (547793) | about a year ago | (#44132131)

My college professor in plasma sciences told us - 13 years ago - that he invented and patented the deflector shields, using this method. He was working under an Air Force contract, and they immediately classified his patent.

I suspect that is more likely the reason it wasn't being done (publicly) previously. I've assumed every Air Force satellite has had this for a decade.

Re:Done 15 years ago (1)

cellocgw (617879) | about a year ago | (#44132373)

My college professor in plasma sciences told us - 13 years ago - that he invented and patented the deflector shields, using this method. He was working under an Air Force contract, and they immediately classified his patent.

Oh, sure he did. And then told you all about it. And you violated the law by not reporting him. If it weren't for the fact that he was almost certainly bullshitting you, I'd suggest you ask Ed S. if he could use a roommate in Ecuador.

Re:Done 15 years ago (2)

Sperbels (1008585) | about a year ago | (#44132917)

Well, the concept has been out there for some time. A specific design for generating the field could be patented and classified and he wouldn't be in trouble for mentioning it exists. It's like nuclear bombs. You don't get in trouble for talking about their existence. You get in trouble from discussing any information on their construction that might be classified though.

Cue the theme music.... (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year ago | (#44131817)

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.

Shouldn't a ship called Discovery take them to Europa? (Or Iapetus?)

Re:Cue the theme music.... (2)

h4rr4r (612664) | about a year ago | (#44131863)

Obviously we can't land on Europa.

Re:Cue the theme music.... (1)

SteveFoerster (136027) | about a year ago | (#44132549)

Maybe not -- at this rate it will probably take us until 2061 to get out of LEO again anyway.

Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131833)

Why not spend that time trying to produce a replicator?

Or am I to expect a "Replicating food is killing farmers, and it's illegal!" response?

Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (1)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44131901)

Farmers already replicate food just fine so there isn't a lot of demand right there. And it's kind of nice to get what you want in a manufactured on the spot fine china cup, but that's not exactly near future tech.

Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about a year ago | (#44132047)

Why not spend that time trying to produce a replicator?

Or am I to expect a "Replicating food is killing farmers, and it's illegal!" response?

There was news recently that NASA _is_ paying someone to develop a 3d printer that prints food, for their spaceships. Which I suppose is as close as we can get to a replicator with the tech level we have for now.

Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (1)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#44132231)

Then just replicate farmers.. DUH!

Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132235)

Well, if you want the tea and cup to be molded plastic, we have that technology now!

Re:Tea, Earl Grey, hot. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#44132277)

The neat thing about having a population of 6 billion people. Is that we can research multiple things at the same time.

Mini-magnetosphere Plasma Propulsion? (2)

OoSync (444928) | about a year ago | (#44131841)

This reminds me of M2P2 that was all the rage on this site a decade or so ago.
Looks like the Dr. Winglee kept up some research, but their page was last updated in 2011.
But, some pretty pictures, movies, and results from actual experiments.

http://earthweb.ess.washington.edu/space/M2P2/ [washington.edu]

If you've never heard of this, the basics are to create a magnetic sail by trapping plasma in a magnetic field around a spacecraft.
Solar wind particles push against the plasma, which is able to expand the range of the magnetic field, and provide force to push the craft.
This is somewhat similar to the concept of solar sails, except the plasma expands outward (increasing surface area exposed to the wind) as the density of the wind decreases. This provides more force than a solar sail the further you are from the sun.

Another benefit was the plasma and magnetic field are deflecting solar particles, so it can shield the occupants, much as this article describes.

Re:Mini-magnetosphere Plasma Propulsion? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131925)

This reminds me of M2P2 that was all the rage on this site a decade or so ago.
Looks like the Dr. Winglee kept up some research, but their page was last updated in 2011.
But, some pretty pictures, movies, and results from actual experiments.

http://earthweb.ess.washington.edu/space/M2P2/ [washington.edu]

If you've never heard of this, the basics are to create a magnetic sail by trapping plasma in a magnetic field around a spacecraft.
Solar wind particles push against the plasma, which is able to expand the range of the magnetic field, and provide force to push the craft.
This is somewhat similar to the concept of solar sails, except the plasma expands outward (increasing surface area exposed to the wind) as the density of the wind decreases. This provides more force than a solar sail the further you are from the sun.

Another benefit was the plasma and magnetic field are deflecting solar particles, so it can shield the occupants, much as this article describes.

From memory, didn't it turn out that the drag from the magsail was larger than push from the solar wind? In other words, it was a great technology for slowing down when entering another solar system but, since we don't yet have the tech to send a probe to another solar system, it was not worth pursuing.

Re:Mini-magnetosphere Plasma Propulsion? (1)

OoSync (444928) | about a year ago | (#44133295)

I did some further reading and the drag was when operating in interstellar space.
But inside out system, or even inside the Earth's magnetosphere, I think it still has a lot of potential use.

I mean, it's not like we're swarming in propulsion systems that can get us around the solar system.

one more proof of the moon hoax? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44131851)

this reads as some kind of major LOL. if they struggle with creating the solution for the problem, that is believed to be solved in the sixties, does it prove solidly the moon missions of apollo are indded nothing but hoax (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o0RusutSM9k)

Re:one more proof of the moon hoax? (4, Informative)

khallow (566160) | about a year ago | (#44131913)

The Apollo missions had deep space radiation exposure of around 7-10 days. Their radiation solutions (which mostly amounted to not launching during a solar flare) aren't going to extend to journeys which last much longer than that.

Re:one more proof of the moon hoax? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#44132033)

As mentioned elsewhere, the Moon missions were performed through a combination of limited exposure during a week or so trip outside the magnetosphere, combined with sheer luck that there was no significant coronal event during the trip.

Re:one more proof of the moon hoax? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132647)

Most moon hoax types forget one thing. These guys who rode several million gallons of lox and lit the sucker, they were thrill seekers. They lived for the rush of speed. These are the sorts of guys who would buy a corvette and see how fast it really can go. They were stone cold crazy. They are the sorts of guys today that would do a base jump just because they can. You meet them and they seem seriously cool and collected. But they loved the speed.

There was an amazing amount of luck and skill involved here. Several hundred people have died getting us to the moon. Then dinks come along and say 'you didnt do it'.

You do not need much to protect us from our magnetosphere and what is collecting in it (a couple of inches of metal will do). It is long term that it does not work well. Honestly I get tired of debunking them. If you take them point by point you usually end up at one thing. They 'hate' the US gov for some reason and a conspiracy theory is something good to latch onto. I like to use this quote to sum them up " If a guy's close to you, you can't slight 'im. You can't slight that guy. A real grievance can be resolved; differences can be resolved. But an imaginary hurt, a slight - that motherfucker gonna hate you 'til the day he dies. " from the movie hoffa.

Who cares about the 'weight'? (2)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about a year ago | (#44131871)

Build the spacecraft in space, using material from meteors or the moon. In fact just hollow out the meteor and move in.

Re:Who cares about the 'weight'? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | about a year ago | (#44131955)

All things being equal, you still have to accelerate your ship if you want to go anywhere it's not going already. For a given amount of propulsion capability, a more-massive-than-necessary ship will take longer to get somewhere.

Martian radiation levels (4, Informative)

peter303 (12292) | about a year ago | (#44131935)

The Curiostiy RAD experiement Principal Investigation gave a talk about Martian radiation 6/26 in Denver.
- 90% of the enroute radiation was from cosmic rays, the rest from solar flares. However a large solar storm could exceed cosmic ray levels.
- The eight month trip resulted in over 300 milliseverts of radiation, about one third of the recommend lifetime human dose.
- The thin Martian atmosphere greatly attenuates the surface radiation. But its still much higher than Earth.
- Hydrogen rich materials like water or certain plastics are useful barriers against cosmic rays. The ISS current has plastic shielded sleeping areas (to wait out solar storms too). It has been suggested to store fresh and waste water in the walls where the astronauts live and work.

How much energy? (1)

yanom (2512780) | about a year ago | (#44131959)

How much energy will it take to run this thing? If the ship is using something like an Ion engine that already demands tons of power, this could be a problem.

Well, duh (1)

Moraelin (679338) | about a year ago | (#44132093)

Well, duh, they'll just run an electroplasma manifold between it and the warp core ;)

magnetic field deflects ionized particles (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132013)

Magnetic field deflects ionized particles, film at 11.

My RAL plan (1)

ral (93840) | about a year ago | (#44132049)

Personally, I've always liked the RAL plan.

This plan will fail for one reason.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132133)

Scotty is dead :(

I'll pay 50 dollars for one! (1)

poofmeisterp (650750) | about a year ago | (#44132183)

....scientists at the UK's Rutherford Appleton Laboratory (RAL) certainly think so. 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.....

and it will be ready for production use in less than a year. (sarcasm)

Hey, wait. Didn't we already have a craft called "Discovery?" [wikipedia.org]

They really are nerdin' it out. :)

Engineering (5, Informative)

celticryan (887773) | about a year ago | (#44132269)

Active shielding (as opposed to passive shielding that uses more mass of materials) is not a new idea [1]. The Rutherford Appleton Group every other year or so contacts NASA saying, look what we can do. Annoyingly, they do the contacting of NASA through the State department occasionally... NASA looks at their design, says "Uh huh, have you done a tech. demo yet?"
RAL says, "Yes, here are the results."
NASA says, "Yes, but this is for 10 MeV electrons. Which are not really part of the space radiation problem. Where are the higher energy proton and heavy ion results?"
RAL says, "..."

Space radiation protection is fundamentally different from terrestrial radiation protection. Space radiation is much higher energy and consists mainly of protons (but also heavy ions are important due to the Z^2 effect of radiation dose). And it is omnipresent - you cannot get away from space radiation - it is everywhere.

See, the problem with the unconfined magnetic field work is that the size and mass of the equipment to make a magnetic dipole against cosmic rays is prohibitive. The most recent analysis that I know of is by Paluzek [2] and needs a million kg in equipment with a diameter of 100 meters...

A nice review of the science and engineering aspects of active shielding can be found in Townsend (2005) [1].

[1] Townsend, L.W., "Critical analysis of active shielding methods for space radiation protection," Aerospace Conference, 2005 IEEE , vol., no., pp.724,730, 5-12 March 2005, doi: 10.1109/AERO.2005.1559364
[2] M. A. Paluszek, “Magnetic Radiation Shielding forPermanent Space Habitats,” in The Industrialization of Space: Proceedings of the Twenty-third Annual Meeting, American Astronautical Society,36 Part 1, 545-574, 1978.

If they're going to create ... (1)

Ihlosi (895663) | about a year ago | (#44132293)

... big-ass magnetic fields around a spaceship, could the same magnetic fields be used for propulsion (by interacting with the magnetic field of the sun or another nearby celestial body, or with the solar wind)? Would be nice to move around without having to carry reaction mass ...

Technical issues (1)

r2kordmaa (1163933) | about a year ago | (#44132379)

Sure you can make a very strong magnetic field with superconducting coils, and it takes nearly no power to maintain. However... there are reasons why you cant take electronics or coins in your pockets to the MRI room... I can see that be a significant constraint to a space project. You can work with a weaker magnetic field, but i seriously doubt that it will be of any use for radiation protection, the H field needs to be huge for there to be enough distance to deflect high energy particles. Only way i see it even theoretically working is to first shield the living and working space of craft with surrounding layer of semiconductor - blocks the magnetic field completely and then to put your magnets around the craft. This will create huge problems with heat managment - and everything else.

A deflector to stop what? (4, Interesting)

tinkerton (199273) | about a year ago | (#44132465)

I thought a thin layer of matter was pretty good at stopping ionized particles such as alpha and beta rays, while you needed a thick slab of matter to stop gamma rays. An electromagnetic deflector will not interact with gamma rays. I'm getting an impression here that a deflector is only useful for cases where there's a cheap alternative.

It could probably deflect pretty powerful ionized particles though, because you can mount it at a long distance from your spacecraft so that a little bit of deflection is enough.

other uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#44132467)

but but ... if it "pushes-back" on the solarwinds, then it could also be used as solarsail!
j0king, i knew that. mars? let's go!

"Hal, turn on the shield" (2)

BoRegardless (721219) | about a year ago | (#44132709)

"I'm sorry Dave, I can't do that."

weak article, shameful (1)

Gothmolly (148874) | about a year ago | (#44132951)

Basically, "we think it would be cool to fly in outer space, and Star Trek thought of this idea, so give us 10M GBP and we'll dick around with some stuff for a few years, culminating in another riveting 6 point slide deck where we announce it can't be done."

Bad idea (1)

blagfast (2768813) | about a year ago | (#44133287)

Very bad idea, the shields won't go up whenever tension needs to be created. Shouldn't be too many on a boring trip to Mars, but still, can we afford to risk it?
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