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Radiation and Space Exploration - The Wordsmith's Forge — LiveJournal
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ysabetwordsmith
Radiation and Space Exploration
Here's an article about radiation exposure and its challenges to a manned Mars mission.  The proposed solution is to hasten the trip by improving propulsion.  That's a useful idea.  But it's not the only  option.  We could also seek better ways to shield people from radiation, which would be quite handy and not much more challenging than propulsion.  Or we could look for ways to boost human tolerance of radiation, which is a lot more complicated and harder to do, but again would have further benefits.

I'm in favor of exploring all  of those options.  They'd all help us get to Mars, they'd all have space-inspired benefits elsewhere in life, and if we're exploring multiple things then we'll probably find one that works sooner.

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From: siliconshaman Date: June 1st, 2013 07:30 pm (UTC) (Link)
Faster propulsion pats benefits in many, many ways... but it's not much help once you're on the surface. A lot of solar radiation can be shielded by a metre or so of sandbagging, all of which can be manufactured on Mars. [including the glass-fibre bags] But that still leaves higher energy cosmic radiation which not much can be done about...

except...

They're also looking into magneto-plasma shielding, recreating Earth's own shielding from high energy particles. Which given that we'd need a fusion plasma drive for that faster propulsion, suddenly becomes a fair bit more possible. And it should work quite well in Mars thin atmosphere. [although, there might be some weird interactions with statically-charged dust.]

Edited at 2013-06-01 07:34 pm (UTC)
George William Claxton From: George William Claxton Date: June 1st, 2013 07:56 pm (UTC) (Link)

Shielding on Planet

One of the best ways of creating living space on Mars would be to build tunnels anyway. This would provide shielding from radiation and protection from high winds and other environmental problems on the surface.
From: siliconshaman Date: June 1st, 2013 08:05 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Shielding on Planet

I think sand-bags have been suggested as a more efficient alternative to tunnels, and really, you only need a metre or two to stop solar radiation. The problem is the high energy cosmic radiation. Most of that stuff is diverted by earth's magnetic field [aside from neutral particles]... problem is, even a kilometre of rock wouldn't stop that. Although a strong magnetic field would bend it around a settlement. [again, not neutral particles but then they don't do much damage because they don't interact.]

Actually, although Mars has winds in excess of 400mph, they aren't much of a problem. Because the atmosphere is very thin, it has so little mass that even a strong wind has little impact. Although the talcum-like dust it kicks up would carry a massive static charge!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 1st, 2013 09:39 pm (UTC) (Link)

Yes...

I'm seriously interested in seeing people explore force shielding rather than mass shielding. It's a paradigm shift that we really need. We're getting to the limits of what we can do with the old technology.

*chuckle* And yes, dust is a damn nuisance in space exploration. Luna's powder gets into everything. On Mars, the static is a hazard to electronics, not to mention anyone who's unusually sensitive to getting zapped.
From: siliconshaman Date: June 1st, 2013 11:59 pm (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

Actually, the static charge on the dust could be helpful more than anything... send a ripple current though the exterior and you can make the dust walk right into a bin. Place a couple of charged grids [+/-] underfoot in the air-locks and you'll decontaminate EVA suits automatically.

It also shouldn't be as abrasive as moon dust, it's been weathered into smooth grains after all. Lunar regolith is nasty in comparison, it's all sharp edges!
ysabetwordsmith From: ysabetwordsmith Date: June 2nd, 2013 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

>>Actually, the static charge on the dust could be helpful more than anything... send a ripple current though the exterior and you can make the dust walk right into a bin. Place a couple of charged grids [+/-] underfoot in the air-locks and you'll decontaminate EVA suits automatically.<<

Those are good ideas. I have to wonder if we could collect the energy too; seems a shame to waste it.

>>It also shouldn't be as abrasive as moon dust, it's been weathered into smooth grains after all. Lunar regolith is nasty in comparison, it's all sharp edges!<<

Moon dust is meaner, but at least it lies still. Mars dust comes after you.
From: siliconshaman Date: June 2nd, 2013 12:20 am (UTC) (Link)

Re: Yes...

I don't think Martian static could be al that useful...you'd need a potential difference to generate a current, and where are you going to ground it to if the whole surface is charged?!

Although, you might get something useful out of an aeolian harp, as the air-borne dust would ground through that to earth, plus the wind would be able to kick up some vibrations, which you could harvest with piezoelectric materials. [might work better than a turbine, as the wind would have very little mass after all.]

And moon dust doesn't entirely lie still.. it creeps! The solar wind imparts a charge on the sunward side, causing it to slowly creep into shadows.



Edited at 2013-06-02 12:21 am (UTC)
nimitzbrood From: nimitzbrood Date: June 2nd, 2013 02:26 pm (UTC) (Link)
Pardon my ignorance but water also stops radiation correct? Including cosmic rays. If we need to take water for our trip, and we do, it's been suggested that storing the water in the outer shielding of the ship would be the best shielding we could provide.

The same goes for Mars. As it was stated Mars dust doesn't pose much of a threat to a manmade structure so why not do this - send a water bot to one of the poles where it can collect any water over time and "inflate" a shelter with the collected water. Kind of like an igloo-bot.

There's enough solar radiation even at the poles to potentially drive heaters to keep the water liquid until it reaches the bottom of the bag after being pumped from the top. When it's full move on to "inflate" another shelter.

When humans land they could heat the bottom of the ice shelters and move them together into a larger structure connected by a special bag that is also filled with collected water.

Heck all the parts could be just so many ice filled triangles with overlapping edge points that assemble into a geodesic dome when humans arrive. Place them all on a large central air bag, Fasten them together. Then inflate the bag. No fuss, no muss, instant radiation protected shelter. It could even be done like a bubble covered with fish scales all overlapping.

If the materials were strong enough you could even send another bot to move them off the poles where they unfreeze and could be configured to circulate throughout the bags for water re-use.

We're problem solving beings and we can easily do this. The problem is that not enough of us want to and the ones who want to don't control the world's resources.
nimitzbrood From: nimitzbrood Date: June 2nd, 2013 02:33 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oh and the bots could easily anchor down more than a meter into the water-ice so when the CO2 ice evaporates in summer they won't get blown away by the geysers. Or we could drive them off and on the edge of the pole as needed since summer is the only time we'll have any sun.

Regardless still all workable. Frankly all we need to do is start sending teams of bots and we could probably produce a human friendly settlement quite easily. Again - we just don't want to do it as a species yet.
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