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Protection for a New Generation of Spacecraft: Evaluating the feasibility of active shielding systems using magnetic fields

Presentation #231.05 in the session “Startling New Technology, Big and Small”.

Published onJan 11, 2021
Protection for a New Generation of Spacecraft: Evaluating the feasibility of active shielding systems using magnetic fields

Long-term spaceflight and space-based instruments require protection from cosmic radiation, and active shielding could reduce the mass, consolidate the radiation deflection system, and provide higher efficiency than passive shielding using bulk materials. Multiple magnetic field geometries were tested and 9 proton energies (spread over a logarithmic scale) were simulated for each geometry to determine which is most efficient at protecting a small, central region of 3D space from varying levels of cosmic radiation. To determine the efficiency, proton particle trajectories for each energy from 0.1 MeV to 1 GeV were generated; the distance from each coordinate to the center was calculated for every particle in the trajectory; and from these distances, a minimum distance was determined. If this distance did not reach the target region, the shielding efficiency was incremented. The results showed that the solenoid magnetic field of 11 coils and 10 meter radius provided the weakest overall shielding; the geomagnetic dipole proved strongest for a central region of 1 meter radius and for central regions of 3 meter and 5 meter radii for low proton energies (at or below ~30 MeV); and the circular coil wire field was strongest for central regions of 3 meter and 5 meter radii for high proton energies (at or above ~100 MeV). This research is important for near-future aerospace engineering applications (especially for long-term, reusable crewed landers) as well as for providing a simulation of the behavior of cosmic rays along field lines of various magnetic field geometries.


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