Project News

Team to Develop Technologies to Protect Astronauts on Deep Space Travel Missions.

Seven European organisations have come together as part of an EU Seventh Framework Research Programme with the aim of developing a practical solution to protect astronauts from ionising radiation during periods in space beyond two years - for example a Mission to Mars. The project entitled Space Radiation Superconductive Shield (SR2S) will run for a period of three years.

The collaborative programme, which commenced in January 2013, will see the specialist team explore the development of magnetic shield technology based on super conducting magnets to protect astronauts on deep space missions. The development of such technology would help further space science and exploration and enable long human permanence in space, the next stage in space travel.

Although superconductivity was discovered over one century ago and is used in many scientific and applied fields, there is limited experience on the technologies needed to build and operate a superconducting magnet in space. The design of such a shield involves detailed understanding of the thermal conditions in space as well as the effects of ionising radiation on the human body over as sustained period of time.

An astronaut’s ability to survive in deep space or on the surface of a planet not protected by a thick atmosphere and/or magnetosphere represents a challenge for future space missions. Long time exposure to galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles is thought to cause a significant increase in the probability of various types of cancers. The ability to adequately shield the astronauts from the ionising radiation is vital in order to realistically plan for long term space travel such as missions to Mars, near Earth asteroids or for settling on the moon surface.

The project team consists of the following Italian organisations; Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), Compagnia Generale per lo Spazio (CGS), Columbus Superconductors (CS) and Thales Alenia Space (TAS-I). The Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives (CEA) from France, CERN and Carr Communications from Ireland complete the group. 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 provided by the EU.

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.

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