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Anticipating the Dangers of Space Radiation (utexas.edu) 23

aarondubrow writes: Astronauts and future space tourists face risks from radiation, which can cause illness and injure organs. Researchers from Texas A&M, NASA, and the University of Texas Medical Branch used supercomputers at the Texas Advanced Computing Center to investigate the radiation exposure related to the Manned Orbiting Laboratory mission, planned for the 1960s and 1970s [but never actually flown], during which a dangerous solar storm occurred. They also explored the historical limitations of radiation research and how such limitations could be addressed in future endeavors.
Supercomputers could be "a game-changer" when it comes to predicting the risks of space radiation, allowing NASA to make life-saving decisions in real-time, argues one of the researchers. During that 1972 solar storm, skin and organs would've risked being exposed to radiation in excess of NASA limits, though one of the study's co-authors believes that rather than risking harm to the astronauts, NASA would've promptly terminated that mission.

"Though the study explored the historical missions, the researchers had in mind future commercial space flights, like those proposed by SpaceX or Virgin Galactic, that will likely travel a similar orbit to best show off the beauty of Earth from space."
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Anticipating the Dangers of Space Radiation

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  • by Anonymous Coward

    Do away with them. Big, 1G-simulating spinning space-wheels with nuclear-powered magnetic field generators to redirect all of that solar-shit to enormous lead-lined shields at either end.

    Sure, it'll cost a couple of trillion, but just take it from your war-fund. You don't need any more of those.

  • Mars mission? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by b0s0z0ku ( 752509 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @04:03PM (#56398619)
    How will this be dealt with on a Mars mission where trajectory can't be changed much, and abort isn't a practical option? Will surrounding a part of the spacecraft with water tanks for shielding be enough? Will NASA just hope for no solar storms during the mission?
    • Will my lead underwear protect me?
    • It will be dealt with probabilistically. As in, you'll hope the probability of a high exposure event will be reasonably small. Once you're on site, you can burrow into the surface.
    • I have wondered about this and haven't found a definitive answer: if you use water for a radiation shield, does it become contaminated and unusable after it absorbs the output of a solar storm?

      Even if it does it seems to me the best option.

      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        Probably needs to be more high tech. You are not trying to 'stop' radiation. You are trying to convert high frequency photons into lower frequency photons ie gamma down to infra red. Likely method involving crystalline structures and electron flows, fancy molecular engineering to force that change, rather than simply intervening mass. Even better if you can convert it into electron energy flows, as high frequency photovoltaic panel ie converting a negative into a positive, heh heh.

  • by Mister Liberty ( 769145 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @04:53PM (#56398813)
    Yeah, we knew that already, in and out of space.
    What's the story here anyway, radiaton, supercomputers, NASA's budget, or the ubiquitous Elon Musk?
  • by grep -v '.*' * ( 780312 ) on Saturday April 07, 2018 @05:53PM (#56399013)

    Supercomputers could be "a game-changer" when it comes to predicting the risks of space radiation ... During that 1972 solar storm, skin and organs would've risked being exposed to radiation in excess of NASA limits,

    So using a big enough one as a shield would stop the radiation? Supercomputers -- what CAN'T they do? That ECC stuff is actually good for something!

    And then really, you've got a timing problem. You discover high incoming radiation but don't have time to get the astronauts back home / out of the way. At some point you've got to block the rays, deflect them, dance between them, outrun them, or suck it up.

  • Humans are already obsolete technology for space travel.

What is algebra, exactly? Is it one of those three-cornered things? -- J.M. Barrie

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