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A Mars Mission's Greatest Challenge: Radiation

michael posted more than 10 years ago | from the foil-underwear dept.

Space 417

daSeiz writes "A New York Times article explores the possible effects of prolonged radiation exposure in deep space. Surprisingly, very little is known about the subject. We'll need to find innovative new ways of shielding spacecraft from fraction-of-lightspeed interstellar rubbish if we're ever to spend much time outside our own magnetosphere."

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what? (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671480)

mars?

MOD MOTHERFUCKING PARENT UP!!!!! (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671491)

Mod parent up!

- Troll

Threesome with Carly Fiorina and Hillary Clinton (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671694)

Oh yeah.

Getting dominated to hell by the hottest, the most dominating bitches on the planet.

That's my dream threesome.

Come spank my ass until it bleeds and then fuck it raw with strap-on dildos. I will also eat you all night long. I don't need sleep when you are around.

When the Clinton chick becomes president... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671759)

...I'm gonna laugh my ass off.

Ha-Ha, the Americunts got a female president!

fp++ (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671483)

omgz teh gnoewses fp!

FRIST PSOT (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671488)

When Mars Attacks,don't answer

Ack. Ack, Ack Ack! (-1, Offtopic)

thepuma (721283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671501)

ACK-ACK!

Who didn't see this coming (4, Funny)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671504)

Tinfoil hats!

Re:Who didn't see this coming (4, Funny)

tds67 (670584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671725)

Tinfoil hats!

To hell with that--lead jock straps!

How about a (0, Offtopic)

Johnnienumlock5 (713408) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671508)

Deflector dish. DUHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!1!1! Oh wait thats TV... It can work

Radiations (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671512)

Brb... I am going to buy my anti-radiation suite

Judging (4, Insightful)

duffbeer703 (177751) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671513)

By the lack of consistent success in getting small probes to the red planet, I'd have to say that rushing out a manned mission should NOT be a priority.

Re:Judging (4, Insightful)

kippy (416183) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671636)

Wrong. It should be a priority. Do you think we'll develop tech to sheild us from radiation if we have no plan on going there? NASA needs to set a goal and develop the tech to get there.

If your attitude was around when we were all still in Africa, we'd all still be there because developing clothing is just too darned hard.

Re:Judging (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671800)


Exactly. A good step would be a totally reusable replacment for the shuttle.

Also, why must a space station be mantained? The moon stays in orbit without falling to earth, why can't a space station eh? I realize the size difference, but is that the reason?

Re:Judging (5, Insightful)

wolenczak (517857) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671678)

Perhaps we could create a magnetic field pretty much like earth's to protect the spacecraft/station. Leaded materials are not an option, unless mars has a source of minerals that could be used to build the shielding. Anyway space research should be a priority. Many of the appliances and materials you use everyday use technology developed thanks to space research.

Invalid Comparison (1, Redundant)

crow (16139) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671707)

Comparing the potential success of a manned mission to that of unmanned missions isn't valid. With a manned mission, the margins of safety are completely different.

With an unmanned mission, they can save weight and money by not including redundant backup systems. It's cheaper to send two probes and have one fail than to send one probe with redundant backups on all systems. With a manned mission, everything changes. Systems have backups. Margin for error is reduced.

Perhaps in old Soviet Russia... :)

Moon kooks... (2, Informative)

Threni (635302) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671516)

...love all this! they think radiation is what made the lunar landings impossible and therefore obviously faked!

Comparing Price (5, Insightful)

jaaron (551839) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671526)

Others include price, estimated at $30 billion to $60 billion, and launching enough food, supplies and fuel for a round trip. Any one of these could make the project impractical.

Well, not to sound too bitter, but going to Mars seems like a much better way to spend billions than going to Iraq.

Re:Comparing Price (2, Funny)

Kenja (541830) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671662)

All George Bush needs to do is say that he has evidence (don?t say what it is) of weapons of mass destruction on the mars surface. Then he can get as much funding as the project needs.

Re:Comparing Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671687)


This would be so funny, for once I would actually support the guy!

Re:Comparing Price (-1, Offtopic)

NixterAg (198468) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671665)

61,000 dead Baghdad residents [news.com.au] disagree with you.

Re:Comparing Price (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671702)

No they would be dead and wouldn't be saying much at all

Re:Comparing Price (-1, Offtopic)

Wehesheit (555256) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671726)

it's not OUR job to bring democracy to the world. WE did it ourselves, so can they. I don't mean to be heartless but people need to do it for themselves for it to have any meaning.

Re:Comparing Price (2, Offtopic)

strictnein (318940) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671811)

I'm a pretty right wing, Iraq war supporting guy, so don't get this the wrong way, but that stat is most likely horribly wrong, I mean, did you look at how it was created?

Gallop asked 1178 Baghdad residents in August and September whether a member of their household had been executed by Saddam's regime. According to Gallup, 6.6 per cent said yes.

The polling firm took metropolitan Baghdad's population - 6.39 million - and average household size - 6.9 people - to calculate that 61,000 people were executed during Saddam's rule.


I mean, come on now. If you can't see at least one or two thing wrong with that survey, you just aren't looking hard enough. I'm sure it was a lot of people who truly were executed, but you shouldn't use stats from that survey.

Re:Comparing Price (2, Insightful)

ealar dlanvuli (523604) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671842)

Why did we know nothing about this until after we took over the country? Oh because it's an abuse of inaccurate statistical data you say? Exactly.

Re:Comparing Price (2, Insightful)

pr0t0plasm (183810) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671774)

Right on. Before heading to Mars, though, might it not make sense to build some space infrastructure? A waypoint at L2, an LEO station large enough to be useful for constructing further spacecraft in orbit, or any other such project would be less flashy, but perhaps more enduring in its influence.

BUGS BUNNY IN DRAG ON TEH SPOKE!!!!!!!111 (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671527)

Man, I'd want to be Pepe Le Pew in this picture [www.iol.ie] , even if Bugs isn't in drag...

It's a conspiracy (4, Funny)

Prince_Ali (614163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671528)

Every sensible person knows that a space craft that is shielded enough, and large enough to allow a human to survive outside our magnetosphere would be too heavy to reach escape velocity. That is why a human has never left Earth's orbit... Apollo indeed!

I've done the math. It would take shielding 100x stronger than the stuff I use to build the hats that keep the psychotronic weapons from affecting my brain!

You have to build it out in space... (0)

thepuma (721283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671584)

And then fly up to it. Duh.

Yeah, make fun of it (0, Troll)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671585)

Sure, funnyman. Show me the calculations that show that a human being could survive exposure to radiation outside the van Allen belts.

Re:Yeah, make fun of it (2, Informative)

Prince_Ali (614163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671657)

Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin would like a "word" with you.

Re:Yeah, make fun of it (1)

October_30th (531777) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671731)

I'm sure they would since the calculations would prove the radiation exposure lethal...

Tell them! (1)

Prince_Ali (614163) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671831)

You should write to them. I bet those 70 year old men would like to know that they died of radiation exposure decades ago!

Re:Yeah, make fun of it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671742)

Actually, show me your calculations first... Extraordinary claims and all that....

RAY-DEE-ATION (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671537)

You hear the most outrageous lies about it. Half-baked goggle-boxed do-gooders telling everybody it's bad for you.

Pernicious nonsense!

Everybody could stand 100 test X-rays a year. They ought to have them, too.

oh... (4, Funny)

gyratedotorg (545872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671541)

isnt every speed less than the speed of light a fraction of light speed?

Re:oh... (1)

wampus (1932) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671576)

Mayhaps the poster meant appreciable fractions of lightspeed. 1/1000000000th the speed of light doesn't seem too impressive, but 1/100th the speed of light is a whole other story.

Re:oh... (3, Funny)

jandrese (485) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671589)

Who said it has to be less? 3/2 is a fraction.

Re:oh... (1)

magarity (164372) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671619)

In this context it means a speed so fast it can be expressed as a reasonable fraction of light speed. Such as 1/10. As opposed to expressing the speed of walking as being 1/1,000,000,000,000 light.

Re:oh... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671624)

No. For instance, c/(pi) is not a fraction of c. There are uncountably many other examples; however most of them are uncomputable.

Re:oh... (1)

plluke (412415) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671821)

To continue this ludicrously serious analysis: Orrrrrrrr, it could mean a *significant* fraction of the speed of light. If we're talking about radiation here, what good would a particle traveling at .5c do? Unless it's a DAMN massive particle (let's say a cow), it's not "radiation" in the traditional sense. If it were a cow we're running into, that's just a collision and no simple probe's going to stand a cow traveling at .5c. Radiation from small particles, then, travel at .95c or above...or maybe even .99c...that's the only way it'd have enough energy to classify as [harmful]radiation. Lower fractions of c probably wouldn't give the particle enough radiation to penetrate normal shields made out of salami butt, or cow, if you've got a bovine fascination.

Safety first! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671542)

No nukes in space!!
We can't risk leaking any deadly radiation into space.

Won't somebody please think of the (Martian) children!

Article leaves out important facts (-1, Offtopic)

Geccoman (18319) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671545)

I noticed there was no mention of the need to shield astronauts from that horrible smell that emanates from Uranus.

Michael Sims . . . (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671546)

...will of course propose that the communist Nanny State Utopia he loves so much provides each citizen with his/her own private magnetosphere.

How does he plan to finance this endeavor? The typical communist windbag solution is of course to place the financial yoke on the productive members of society.

Long live Sims, may his mouth never tire from sucking the dicks of Marx and Engels.

radiation shielding (3, Funny)

Ba3r (720309) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671547)

Ready.gov [ready.gov] has plenty of useful information on radiation shielding. If you have a thick shield between yourself and the radioactive materials more of the radiation will be absorbed by the thick shield, and you will be exposed to less. Perhaps NASA could use some insightful advice from the Dept of Homeland Securty. I bet a couple rolls of duct tape and some plastic would be quite useful in Space!

Re:radiation shielding (2, Funny)

phillymjs (234426) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671764)

I bet a couple rolls of duct tape and some plastic would be quite useful in Space!

Memo to Captain Obvious:
Duct tape has already saved the day for NASA on more than one occasion. [octanecreative.com]

~Philly

Simple solution (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671550)

Just reconfigure the modulators.

Re:Simple solution (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671583)

Captain, we just reversed the polarity. It should work.

Re:Simple solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671592)

and also the moderators

Debris in space (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671554)

Not having read the article, I'd expect micro dust and larger particles would also be a problem.

Whoa, dude. (4, Funny)

shystershep (643874) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671566)

changes in motor skills are tested by stimulating animals with cocaine and measuring movement with infrared beams

They tried marijuana first, but the mice just got paranoid and started eating everything in sight.

M2P2 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671572)

This would not do any good unless the particles
have a charge, but still it could shield the crew
and provide propulsion.

http://www.geophys.washington.edu/Space/SpaceMod el /M2P2/

Star Trek solution (4, Funny)

rf0 (159958) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671574)

Well we will have to reroute main engine power through the deflector dish to create a graviton feedback wave which will in turn allow us to turn the radiation into a non-harful form of chocolate

Rus

Re:Star Trek solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671677)

you idiot! you didn't reverse the polarity on that thing over there, now we are all going to die due to your negligence!

You sir are obesessed... (1)

twoslice (457793) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671679)

into a non-harful form of chocolate

with Deanna Troi, aren't you.

To quote Tom Lehrer (1)

blamanj (253811) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671581)

And of course I'll wear a pair 'o
Levis, over my lead BVDs.

(Slightly different context, but hey.)

Just put pictures of these two (-1)

scottcha+4 (643890) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671603)

Dr. Betsy Sutherland and Dr. Derek I. Lowenstein (from the article) on the outside of the ship. Those two mugs would scare ANYTHING away from the ship.

Tin foil (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671606)

About 100 layers of it.

Bone loss (5, Insightful)

hcuar (706760) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671610)

Ummm... Actually, wouldn't the worst problem be bone density loss. That's one of the main problems on the ISS (International Space Station). Without the effect of gravity, bone density decreases. From what I understand it's a pretty nasty recovery. The time required to go to and from Mars plus mission time would require much more time in space than any ISS mission to date.

Re:Bone loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671646)

but the gravity of mars would help to replenish the bone loss

Re:Bone loss (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671671)

The biggest problem will most likely be weakening of the immune system. Spend enough time in space, and your immune system will be about as effective as that of someone with AIDS. Fortunately, the effect reverses itself quickly once you're back in a decent gravity field.

Re:Bone loss (2, Informative)

donnyspi (701349) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671724)

I was curious how long it would take to get to mars and back. Here [vanderbilt.edu] 's the answer:

"A mission to Mars would take about three years from launch to reentry, including 6-12 months of travel each way and a lengthy stay on Mars while the planets reach optimum position for beginning a return flight. (NASA)"

Re:Bone loss (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671754)


that's why they need a rotating hollow disk creating artificial gravity! Anyone ever seen Epoch II? They had one on there as the US missle defense system. cool shit.

My theory is they could launch an object like one of those little balls that expands to 10x it's size (kids toy), then expand it, and use it as the frame for the station. Then again, my theorys always suck.

Ways to protect the ship (4, Informative)

Janek Kozicki (722688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671616)

this problem is known, and Mars Society [marssociety.org] already has some solution [marssociety.org] for this problem.

Anyway if you also wanted to know about radiation on the planet Mars, be sure it is not [marssociety.org] dangerous.

The way to sell it (4, Funny)

downix (84795) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671632)

$30 to $60 billion to get to Mars? I know how to do it. Tell Dubya that Martians are stockpiling weapons of mass destruction!

Re:The way to sell it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671738)

Wow! This highly original joke just keps getting funnier and funnier every single time I read it!

Re:The way to sell it (1)

The Ape With No Name (213531) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671832)

Wow! This highly original AC comment gets .... Oh this is fucking boring.

Martian Cherry Cocktail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671635)

Martian Cherry

Ingredients

1 oz Cherry Vodka

1 oz Dry Vermouth

3/4 oz Sloe Gin

1 oz Pineapple Juice

Directions

Shake and strain into a glass three-quarters

filled with broken ice.

Alcohol (ABV) - 18% (37 proof)

NASA engineers need to watch more TREK. (1)

Typingsux (65623) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671645)

Navigational deflectors, duh!

Artificial Magnetosphere? (4, Insightful)

TonyZahn (534930) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671650)

Ok, IANAP, but what would be the requirements to build a device capable of generating a magnetic field similar to the earth's magnetosphere? I would imagine that it's more efficient to generate a powerful magnetic field around a spaceship than it would be to line the whole thing with lead bricks...

Would the energy requirements be far to high, or maybe the diameter has to be a certain size to deflect solar radiation around the ship? This is all pure non-researched speculation of course, but I know that there's more than a few intelligent /.s out there who may be able to answer this.

Yeah.. (1)

mindstrm (20013) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671712)

What we need is a few trillion trillion tons of molten iron turning rapidly.. that oughtta do it. Just put that in your ship, and you'll be fine. Something a few thousand miles across should be adequate.

Re:Artificial Magnetosphere? (5, Informative)

GileadGreene (539584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671783)

I think you'll find that your questions will be answered by a look at this [washington.edu] site. It's all about Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2). They do exactly what you are asking for (create an artificial magnetosphere), and supply some nifty propulsion to boot. And no, it doesn't require megatons of molten iron, as some other posters have suggested...

Re:Artificial Magnetosphere? (1)

Carnildo (712617) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671797)

Lead bricks have the advantage that they'll stop other things, like small meteors, in addition to the radiation.

Not to say that magnetic shielding doesn't have benefits. Google for "magsail" or "magnetic sail".

Beanstalk, anyone? (1)

elwoodblues16 (666185) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671659)

If radiation shielding is our greatest problem, then we REALLY need a new way of lifting mass to orbit. Because tons and tons of lead is the only decent way we know to stop radiation.

Magnetosphere (1)

FrostedWheat (172733) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671664)

Could a spacecraft create it's own magnetosphere? The Earth's field is not that strong .. though it is huge. The power requirements and weight of such a device would probably make it unfeasible.

</thinking aloud>

Re:Magnetosphere (1)

cupofjoe (727361) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671780)

It's not the magnetosphere directly that protects Earth, but its shape, too...the van Allen belts are evidence that an effective barrier 'traps' the incoming particles, rather than deflects them away, a'la "magnetic bottles".

I'm not sure if a small ship-sized field would be enough. Sure, you could generate one (especially with nuclear power [cnn.com] , but its total energy content would be nothing close to Earth's.

Question: do the van Allen belts actually contribute to shielding themselves?

Radiation is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671668)

Look, I'm not even going to RTFA or even the slash comment. EVERYONE knows that radiation is bad. Bad Bad Bad. So, just stay away from it, OK?...nice easy solution. Use the Nancy Reagan thing and "Just Say No" to Radiation.
All you need to do is steer any Mars Missions away from radiation, OK? Just use your radiometer or whatever you geeks use to measure radiation, right... for example, you get a reading over to port of "5" and over to starboard of "18", OK? Steer to port, man! Now!
It's so easy. Just stay away from Radiation.
And I don't mean regular cosmic Radiation, I mean ALL Radiation. Including infrared.
Awww darn...my troll just turned funny

Duh. (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671670)

Bring along a magnetosphere.

The Public Doesn't Understand? (1)

tds67 (670584) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671688)

A trip to Mars means "trying to live in an environment that human beings were not built to live in," Dr. Lowenstein said. "Space is not `Star Trek,' but the public certainly doesn't understand that."

Yeah, right...I hope Captain Picard is reading Slashdot right now and gets mad enough to kick this guy's ass!

Re:The Public Doesn't Understand? (1)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671734)

Yeah, but then they'll get in a fight and picard will end up with a knife stuck in his chest and he'll end up with a fake heart...

oh wait...

BAH! who needs any of that damnable (0, Troll)

abolith (204863) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671689)

"spacecraft shieldingld think that even NASA coulda figured this one out, geez.

Have you ever flashy thinged me? (2, Funny)

RealProgrammer (723725) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671696)

Intermittently, an assistant went into the heavily shielded target room to adjust the target, a procedure that requires a retina scan by a security device and the insertion of special keys to assure that no one unauthorized enters.

It would take more than a neuralizer to get me to go in there.

I wonder where on the assistant they insert the special keys?

Re:Have you ever flashy thinged me? (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671830)

I wonder where on the assistant they insert the special keys?

Isn't it obvious?

Water (2, Insightful)

AKAImBatman (238306) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671697)

Water is one of the best radiation protectors. By filling the double hull with water (and compartmentalizing against breaches) you could effectively shield an entire crew. Some form of EM "bubble" technology would also work, but it would be much more difficult to implement.

Oh, and they should use nuclear engines like NERVA or Orion. That way the extra weight of the water is less important, not to mention that the craft may be able to reserve enough fuel for emergency maneuvers.

Problems Like This (4, Interesting)

ChuckDivine (221595) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671700)

I do remember from my O'Neill colony advocacy days that people who knew more about the subject than I did recommended putting heavy, static shields around the colonies. One meter or so of solid waste products (think left over materials from mineral refining) in a layer around the colony could effectively shield the inhabitants from cosmic radiation.

This, unfortunately, makes for a pretty massive structure -- difficult to move around the solar system with contemporary propulsion. Travel is possible, especially with better propulsion, but more difficult than Star Trek et al. would have you believe.

This problem also could impact those proposals for Martian bases and settlements. I think Mars doesn't provide the same protection from radiation as Earth does. So, we could build bases on Mars -- just bury them underground. That's hardly what I think Zubrin and company want.

It might be interesting to see what can be done, if anything, with some sort of magnetic shielding. Although that could be a lot trickier again than SF TV shows imply.

I think problems like this are resolvable, but it's going to take a wide variety of efforts in multiple fields and directions to come up with solutions. Is there enough interest in space currently to make that kind of effort? Or can research in various fields be done with other goals in mind to solve this specific problem?

NYT needs to do some more research. (1)

User 956 (568564) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671701)

A New York Times article explores the possible effects of prolonged radiation exposure in deep space. Surprisingly, very little is known about the subject.

They've obviously never read the Fantastic Four.

Got Human? (1)

dakkon1024 (691790) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671704)

A little mutation never hurt anybody...

Well if they send four astronauts... (4, Funny)

psxndc (105904) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671719)

You know one will come back all bendy-like, one will be on fire, another will be invisible, and one will be made of orange rock. And I ain't even a PhD.

psxndc

Color me pedantic, but... (2, Interesting)

broken_down_programm (597416) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671723)

We'll need to find innovative new ways of shielding spacecraft from fraction-of-lightspeed interstellar rubbish if we're ever to spend much time outside our own magnetosphere...

I think you meant LARGE fraction of lightspeed interstellar rubbish. The spitballs my cubicle mate hurls at me are fraction-of-lightspeed rubbish. A very small fraction of lightspeed. Shielding requirements are minimal.

How, though, will we protect ourselves from the terrible secret of space?

nyt (0)

alitaa (636041) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671735)

can someone copy/paste the article for those of us who refuse to sign up to nyt, please?

Not a horrible problem (2, Insightful)

jridley (9305) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671747)

What you really have to worry about is mid-energy stuff coming from the sun during a flare; that will bake you in a couple of hours. Luckily you just need a meter of water or so and you're good, so you can have a hidey-hole in the core of the ship to duck into for a few hours during flares, which you can get a warning of.

There's not much you can do about cosmic rays in a ship; you can't economically carry that much shielding, but luckily it's pretty low flux; a Mars mission would, by the estimates I've seen, raise a participant's lifetime chance of dying of cancer by 2%.

Shielding material (5, Funny)

wowbagger (69688) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671753)

The problem is finding a shielding material that will absorb the radiation that will affect a human body, without transmuting radiation that would pass harmlessly through a human into radiation harmful to a human. Thus, you need a shielding material that is cheap and has the same absorbsion parameters as a human.

I suggest using spammers.

Livin Underground (4, Interesting)

avkillick (698274) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671756)

All the futurists depict Martian/Lunar colonies as above ground structures/modules launched from Earth. I am convinced that humans and robots that wish to remain permanently on the moon or Mars will need to bury themselves underground to protect themselves from the radiation. Further, I believe that as a precursor to these permanent outposts, we will send up mining robots to develop the required infrastructure.

Maybe we'll meet Marvin (0)

Lipongo (704267) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671798)

Perhaps we'll get our chance to see Marvin the Martian. Any chance NASA is taking requests for autographs?

"Storm cellar" (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7671801)

The documentaries I have seen mention this. It has been suggested that a Mars-bound spacecraft include a "storm cellar"-- a very heavily shielded compartment that the crew can get into when necessary if the sun shoots a dangerous amount of radiation their way during a coronal mass ejection.

cure for cancer (1)

linuxlastslonger (679995) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671808)

with all that radiation.... you think it could be a cure for cancer out there? hey! we could all go bald, then... and not have to worry about looking funny, 'cause then we'd all be bald and have five arms growing out of us!! :-D

That's what I've heard about the moon 'landing'... (-1, Offtopic)

vandan (151516) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671809)

... that there was WAY too much radiation for the original moon landing mission to have been able to make it even 1% of the way there, as at the time no-one knew about the background radiation, so no effort went into shielding the crew.

But anyway, the US government told us that they were the first to the moon, and we all know that they don't lie. Weapons of Mass Destruction? Links between Bin Laden and Saddam? Attempts to purchase Uraniam from an African country? Oil not the issue? All the honest truth, they swear!

Using the earth as space shuttle (3, Funny)

GillBates0 (664202) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671818)

A third area of research is shielding. On Earth, radiation shielding is commonly provided by concrete or lead, but the costs of launching spacecraft are so high that this is not practical. One possible solution is a water tank, with the astronauts' living in a chamber in the middle. "It's just so expensive to put material into orbit that you'd like to use materials you have to bring anyway," Dr. Lowenstein said.

I propose a solution to this problem. The main problem with launching rockets/satellites is exactly that -- launching them...i.e. generating enough power to achieve escape velocity required to overcome the Earth's gravitation force.

An alternate approach, however, would be to use the planet itself as a spaceshuttle for the reasons below:

1. Capable of high velocity:
The Earth is capable of travelling at very high speeds (currently 18.55 miles/sec) without causing noticeable discomfort/grievances to the passengers (astronauts).

2. Strong shield against radiation: The Earth's atmosphere provides a strong shield to protect the astronauts from high amounts of radiation present in outer space.

3. Fuel efficient: The planet is extremely power efficient at converting the energy generated due to the gravitational interaction between planetary bodies into rotational/revolutionary motion.

4. Huge storage area: The proposed space shuttle provides a huge hold/storage area capable of holding large amounts of food/water and other resources. The storage areas are regenerative, in that they help degrade waste into material which can be used to reproduce useful material.

The only area which needs research is navigation--figuring out how to make the Earth go where we want. I think that's what NASA/etc should focus on now.

Radiation effect already known. (3, Funny)

Per Abrahamsen (1397) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671827)

Statistically, 25% will be able to invisible at will, 25% will be transformed into big stone monsters, 25% will be able to turn into flames without getting hurt, and 26% will be able to stretch their body many times its normal length.

There are 1% uncertainty on these numbers.

NASA is addressing the problem right now... (5, Interesting)

Mysticalfruit (533341) | more than 10 years ago | (#7671828)

There was a story on space.com last week about how NASA was testing a new material that could be woven into space suits and used in the construction of spacecraft, etc... Inital testing had shown it could effectly block most/all radiation or turn it into a form that isn't harmful.

Here's the link: link [space.com]

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