Project News
This article outlines how the EU FP7 project SR2S is striving to create a protective shielding mechanism to protect astronauts during deep space missions. The project coordinator, Professor Battiston is confident that this project will help solve the the challenge of exposure to radiation in space.
 
Why are there more men than women in space? The answer might not be as straightforward as you first think. According to physiological models used by NASA, female astronauts have a lower threshold for space radiation than their male counterparts, meaning opportunities for space exploration are more limited for them.
 
Radiation exposure from a long time spent in deep space or on the surface of certain planets is thought to cause an increase in the probability of developing cancer. According to NASA, the added risk of a male developing cancer on a 1 000-day Mars mission lies somewhere between 1 percent and 19 percent. The odds are worse for women. In fact, because of breasts and ovaries, the risk to female astronauts is nearly double the risk to males. This means that while all astronauts are somewhat are limited in the missions they can fly, the limitations on female astronauts are far harsher.
 
The work of the ongoing EU Project SR2S ('Space Radiation Superconductive Shield') may change this. Driven by the belief that technology can be sufficiently developed to allow both genders to withstand a long duration stay in space, SR2S aims to solve the issue of radiation protection for all astronauts within the next three years.
 
But how can the project deliver this level of protection to radiation? According to project organisers, the SR2S superconducting shield will provide an intense magnetic field, 3 000 times stronger than the Earth's magnetic field and will be confined around the space craft. The magnetic fields will extend to about 10 metres in diameter and ionizing particles will be deflected away. Project organisers say that shielding the astronauts from ionising radiation in this way is a prerequisite to realistically plan for exploration missions to Mars, Near Earth Asteroids or for setting on the Moon surface.
 
Speaking about the evolution of SR2S, Project leader Professor Roberto Battiston said, 'We believe we will succeed in this goal of solving the radiation protection issue. In the last few months the international teams working at CERN have solved two major technical issues relevant to the superconducting magnets in space [...] These developments open the way to larger and more effective space radiation shields and in turn facilitate deep space travel for female astronauts'.
Professor Battiston added, 'Researchers must focus on both genders in current and future studies. The next exploration challenges, deep space travel to Near Earth Asteroids and long duration stay on Mars and on the moon, require an effective way to actively shield astronauts.'

Radiation issues for manned Mars mission

sidebar radiation article

During the rover's cruise to Mars between December 2011 and July 2012, RAD showed that an astronaut would clock up the same radiation dose in a day that the average American receives in a year. If you exclude medical dosages, it would be 10 times more than the average American.

See original article from The Guardian here.

Materials that Halt Hazardous Space Radiation

Radiation has long been an issue when it comes to space travel. In fact, NASA's Mars rover Curiosity recently confirmed previous research on the hazards of space radiation, revealing that radiation levels on the way to the Red Planet are several hundred times higher than the those humans receive on Earth. Now, scientists may have found a way to shield astronauts from the hazards of this radiation.

See original article from Science World Report here.

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Current Project Status

The SR2S project is nearing completion. Project partners presented their technological achievements at the final project dissemination event in Brussels in December 2015. To read more about this event, click here.

Next Project Milestone

The final project review meeting will take place in January 2016. Further information and final project results will be available after this date.

Got a question?

If you have a questions about the SR2S project, why not send us an email and we'll try to reply to your query as soon as possible. You can email us at questions@sr2s.eu

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