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British Breakthrough Makes Manned Mars Mission Safer

November 7th, 2008 Leave a comment Go to comments

DailyTech – British Breakthrough Makes Manned Mars Mission Safer

New method for protecting astronauts would make trip to Mars much safer

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.

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