MadSci Network: Physics

Re: Could the future spaceship be shielded from Ultrahigh energy cosmic rays?

Date: Wed Apr 13 10:49:44 2005
Posted By: Andy Goddard, Staff, Teaching and Learning Resources, Strathclyde University
Area of science: Physics
ID: 1111556838.Ph

Hello Yevgeniy,

Halfway through his answer, Ben writes on the damage caused by UHECRs here:

His suggestion, that no shielding might be better than some shielding is a good one, as it reduces the risks of spallation - a shower of dangerous secondary and subsequent particles - caused by a UHECR hitting the atoms within a dense shield.

However, it must be said that it is theoretically possible to provide enough shielding to protect a ship from all cosmic rays, providing we don't mind covering our ship with many metres of ray-absorbing materials. Ben suggests ten metres of rock is enough to stop a 200GeV proton.

Let's suppose that that's enough: every square metre of the surface of our ship would therefore need about 25 tonnes of shielding. In real terms this is not practical - an Apollo-type capsule, with a surface area of approximately 40 square metres, would need 1000 tonnes of shielding for its five-tonne mass.

I hope this helps,

Andy Goddard

Current Queue | Current Queue for Physics | Physics archives

Try the links in the MadSci Library for more information on Physics.

MadSci Home | Information | Search | Random Knowledge Generator | MadSci Archives | Mad Library | MAD Labs | MAD FAQs | Ask a ? | Join Us! | Help Support MadSci

MadSci Network,
© 1995-2005. All rights reserved.