Manned mission to Mars boost after British breakthrough

From: Andrew Johnson

Date: 2008-11-05 13:28:07

Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin et al may be interested in this story. Perhaps they would say this is “Old News”?   Thanks to Brian D and Mike S for alerting me to this story…… Manned mission to Mars boost after British breakthroughBy Richard Alleyne, Science Correspondent Last Updated: 12:01am GMT 04/11/2008 A manned mission to Mars is a step closer to reality after British scientists overcame one of its biggest obstacles – shielding astronauts from deadly solar storms. Water found on Mars, Nasa scientists confirm Russia aims to conquer Mars with monkeys China ‘will beat US’ in manned Mars mission Putting a man on the Red Planet has been the favourite subject of science fiction writers and the dream of scientists ever since space travel was first envisaged. advertisement But, the vast distances aside, the greatest challenge facing explorers has been how to protect astronauts and their space ships from solar storms – radioactive clouds of particles that shred human DNA and destroy electronic instruments. Now British researchers believe they have come up with a practical solution by mimicking the Earth’s own protection – a mini magnetic field that deflects the fatal particles. The British scientists based at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory and universities of York and Strathclyde have applied kinetic theory, borrowed from experiments into nuclear fusion, to the problem. They have tested it in the laboratory with a model space craft and discovered that it offers almost total protection. Prof Bob Bingham, a theoretical physicist at the University of Strathclyde, said the team were currently patenting their technology and could have a working full size prototype within five years. “Solar storms or winds are one of the greatest dangers of deep space travel,” he said. “If you got hit by one not only would it take out the electronics of a ship but the astronauts would soon take on the appearance of an overcooked pizza. “It would be a bit like being near the Hiroshima blast. Your skin would blister, hair and teeth fall out and before long your internal organs would fail. It is not a very nice way to go. “This system creates a Magnetic Field Bubble that would deflect the dangerous radiation away from the spacecraft.” According to Nasa and the European Space Agency, both planning manned missions by 2050, “space weather” is the single greatest obstacle to deep space travel. Large numbers of these energetic particles occur intermittently as “storms” with little warning and are already known to pose the greatest threat to man. Nature helps protect the Earth by having a giant “magnetic bubble” around the planet called the magnetosphere. The Apollo astronauts of the 1960s and 1970s who walked upon the Moon are the only humans to have travelled beyond the Earth’s natural “force field”. With typical journeys on the Apollo missions lasting only about 8 days, it was possible to miss an encounter with such a storm. The 36-million mile journey to Mars, however, would take about eighteen months, during which time it is almost certain that astronauts would be enveloped by such a “solar storm”. The idea of a “mini-magnetosphere” has been around since the 1960s but it was thought impractical because it was believed that only a very large – more than 100km wide – magnetic bubble could possibly work. This would involve enormous amounts of energy and massive machinery. But the British team, which published its results in the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, has come up with a system that would be about the size of a playground roundabout and use the same energy as a kettle. They envisage two “mini-magnetospheres” being housed in two outrider satellites in front of the space craft that when a storm approaches would switch on the shield and deflect the deadly rays. Dr Ruth Bamford, one of the lead researchers at the Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, said: “These initial experiments have shown promise and that it may be possible to shield astronauts from deadly space weather.” Are you interested in what’s really going on in the world, behind the facade? Then…www.checktheevidence… happened on 9/11?    

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