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Thread: Safety of life in space

  1. #1
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    Safety of life in space

    One of the most common accelerators, CRT, accelerating electrons at 30KV, 3mA current, we get 10^20 electrons/second at speeds of 0.3c(I computed this a long time ago, sorry if figures are not exact), hitting phosphorous material. It was a discussion about safety of astronauts in space when high energetic particles enter spacecraft. I suggested a similar system to CRT, to convert this energy to light and heat as it occurs in a CRT, I never got an answer when I asked if someone knows what will happen if electrons in CRT could be replaced with protons, I mean could there be a device that can effectively convert cosmic ray energies into useful light and heat energies or converting high energy matter to plasma and divert them by magnetic fields?
    Obviously part of discussion concerned the damage to the spacecraft, but I think if the particles are small at relativistic speeds then the damage could be very small because a little hole in spacecraft could easily be repaired by automatic repair mechanism.
    So questions are as follows:
    1- How to convert high energetic cosmic rays or charged particles to useful heat and light?
    2- How to convert neutral particles to plasma and divert them by magnetic/electric fields before they damage spacecraft?
    3- How to have an automatic repair mechanism to repair holes, similar to cell repair mechanism?
    Last edited by KhashayarShatti; 2012-Apr-20 at 05:53 PM.

  2. #2
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    Big part of the problem with this is that the main danger from cosmic rays is not the ray itself but the spallation products. Anything capable of stopping the high energy particles is probably going to spit out a lot of secondary products equally bad for the astronauts' health.

  3. #3
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    It seems like radiotropic fungi could be very helpful.
    Last edited by adapa; 2012-Apr-21 at 02:14 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shaula View Post
    Big part of the problem with this is that the main danger from cosmic rays is not the ray itself but the spallation products. Anything capable of stopping the high energy particles is probably going to spit out a lot of secondary products equally bad for the astronauts' health.
    So it seems disappointing. If you are asked, is it possible to have a long journey in space, what would you answer?
    I think to some extent a magnetic shield of 1 cm can deflect these particles and the danger of them entering the spacecraft dramatically reduces. Of course if they are charged particles similar to cosmic rays which most often are said to be protons.
    Also, if they are not charged particles, by some means they should be ionized and trapped or deflected by magnetic fields.

  5. #5
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    I'd say it would be possible to have a long journey is space. Odds are it would reduce your life expectancy though. you would probably be able to shield against some cosmic rays, but at a cost of more power and weight being used on shielding. At some point you are going to have to accept a compromise - "OK this is as safe as I can practically make it".

    Of course the other trade off in weight/power would be: larger heavier ships would require longer to make the journey. So the people on board would get a larger dose of whatever was not shielded against. There would probably be a sort of U shaped curve - no shielding is bad, too much shielding would mean you had to spend a long time travelling and get hit by too many of the impossible to shield against very high energy cosmic rays.

  6. #6
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    I know 1 repair mechanism used for car tires. A kind of spray used after a cars tire gets punctured. A kind of substance that reacts with air to block the hole and prevent air exit. One of the simplest repair mechanism that could also be automated. Most probably there could be similar mechanisms.
    However using redundant systems could also be considered specially for control equipment. There is some similarity in redundant parts of humans and equipment. For example, body has two kidneys, or two longs....and removal of one doesn't cause death.
    How far this redundancy could be applied to human physiological systems? Is it possible to develop redundant hearts(Please forget cloning), or repair mechanisms similar to a lizard when it can lose its tail and can grow it later? Can an astronaut have two hearts? Recently a kind of turbine heart replaced a Patients heart and he has no heart beat anymore.

  7. #7
    Phosphors aren't particularly efficient at absorbing energy from charged particles, they just happen to release some of it as visible light.

    Spacecraft are typically shielded with plastics and light metals instead of things like lead. Lead would produce lots of bremsstrahlung x-rays from the incoming electrons and protons bouncing off heavy nuclei. Materials rich in light nuclei bleed off energy a bit at a time in multiple interactions...you want things like HDPE which pack a lot of carbon and hydrogen nuclei in a relatively small volume.

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