The aim of the project has been to develop, validate and increase the Technology Readiness Level (TRL) of the most critical technologies related to a magnetic shielding system for protecting astronauts’ lives during long duration space missions.
Long duration permanence in deep space or on the surface of planet not protected by a thick atmosphere and/or magnetosphere represent a challenge which remains, as today, unsolved. Long term exposure to Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) and Solar Energetic Particles (SEP) is thought to cause a significant increase in the probability of various type of cancers. Means to adequately shield the astronauts from the ionising radiation are required in order to realistically plan for exploration missions to Mars, Near Earth Asteroids or for setting on the Moon surface.
This study has conducted a technical and scientifically driven exploration of the feasibility of a superconducting magnetic shield, comparing the various possible magnetic configurations and analysing its merits as well the challenges of this approach. It also includes the development of some key enabling technologies to be used to build such a spacecraft shield.
The SR2S project has completed the following to date:
- An assessment of the requirements for an active radiation shield suitable to protect the astronauts during long duration flight and based on superconducting magnets
- An assessment and validation of some key technologies required for the development of an active, space born, magnetic shield
- The project has brought together the most competent European teams needed in this multidisciplinary effort, exploiting the existence in Europe of worldwide cutting edge expertise in the technologies of superconductors
- An Analysis and comparative study on the various magnetic and coil configurations, identifying the most promising solutions for active shielding
- The project members have designed a realistic configuration to be used on the short term to design demonstration units of active shields for exploration
- SR2S has provided a roadmap for future technical developments needed to develop the active shield technologies needed for space application
- Project partners have conducted a review, analysis and selection of the requirements on radiation doses for exploration travel in deep space
- SR2S has used the most up to date Monte Carlo and analysis tools to compute the radiation shield effectiveness
- Designed cables suitable for active shield applications, based on ITS and HTS materials
- Conducted a study and comparison of coils configurations suitable for assembly in space, based on the most advanced ITS and HTS superconductors
- Improved the current density and magnetic properties of the MgB2 superconducting cables through the development of breadboarding units
The research leading to these results has received funding from the European Union's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) under grant agreement n° 313224.
SR2S is a Collaborative Project under the EU Seventh Framework Research Programme – Space Theme. The total project cost is €2,740,898.84 of which €1,995,853.44 has been contributed by the EU.244.5 person months will be expended by the partners over the 3 year duration of the project. The project started in January 2013.