British Breakthrough Makes Manned Mars Mission Safer
New method for protecting astronauts would make trip to Mars much safer
A team of British researchers believes that they have defeated one of the major obstacles to the journey: solar storms. The Earth is protected from deadly solar storms by its magnetosphere, which deflects the radioactive particles produced in the storm.
When a spacecraft travels beyond the protective magnetosphere, it is subject to the destructive power of these storms that scientists claim can pop-up quickly and pose severe risk to instruments on the spacecraft and the lives of the astronauts in the spacecraft.
The system Bingham and other researchers developed creates a mini magnetosphere around the spacecraft. The team says that the theory has been tested in the lab on a scale model and provides almost total protection to the ship and occupants inside the vessel.
Designing a mini magnetosphere had previously been dismissed as impossible due to the large amount of equipment and power deemed necessary to create the protective bubble. The researchers were able to develop a prototype system that in its final form would be about the size of a merry-go-round on a playground and require as much energy to operate as a kettle.
Scientists see the system being comprised of two mini magnetosphere-generating satellites housed in outriders in front of the spacecraft. The artificial magnetosphere would not run at all times and would only be fired up when a solar storm was detected.