73 votes
Accepted

Why don't we shield existing CPUs from radiation instead of designing new ones?

Because shielding against radiation is heavy, and weight is the enemy of getting things into space. CPUs are quite sensitive to radiation, and some types of radiation (cosmic rays) are not only quite ...
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  • 3,382
66 votes
Accepted

Why can't we use the same radiation shielding in Mars that we used when going to the moon?

Radiation exposure is a cumulative risk. The more radiation you receive, the more likely you are to develop cancers. The Apollo missions took no more than two weeks to complete; the astronauts ...
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66 votes

Why can't we use the same radiation shielding in Mars that we used when going to the moon?

In addition to what Russell Borogove says about cumulative risk you're operating under a false assumption--that there was shielding on the Apollo capsules. Not only did the Apollo capsules not have ...
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35 votes
Accepted

Should man-made satellites feature an intelligent inverted "cow catcher"?

...adjust the angle of the cow catcher to deflect earthward The catcher could be coupled in a way that would allow it to absorb impact gradually by continuous springs. The problem with this is that ...
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21 votes

How much power would a spacecraft's magnetic shield require?

It's Monday, so let me rain on this parade a little. Current magnetic shield designs are adequate to protect against ionizing radiation from the sun. They aren't sufficient to protect against ...
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17 votes
Accepted

Would a nuclear propelled spaceship still need a storm shelter?

The basic idea here is to turn to have the shield you have towards the Sun. That does actually work, because the radiation from the Sun is directed, with a few exceptions: First, inside a planetary ...
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16 votes
Accepted

Could ozone be used in a biodome on Mars?

If we have $O_2$ lighted with UV, we have actually many reactions working together: $O_2 + \gamma \rightarrow 2O$ $O_2 + O \rightarrow O_3$ $O_3 + \gamma \rightarrow O_2 + O$ $O + O_3 \rightarrow 2 ...
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  • 3,230
14 votes

Why don't we shield existing CPUs from radiation instead of designing new ones?

You actually ask a really good question. And the answer is, we do both, depending on the needs. NASA tends to go for the ultra-reliable, and radiation tolerant components are more reliable, thus it ...
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  • 119k
12 votes

Would a Europa lander need radiation shielding similar to Juno?

A Europa lander would need much more shielding, and/or more radiation tolerant components. Juno's orbit avoids the main radiation belt, but Europa is right in the middle of it.
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  • 57.7k
12 votes

Why make X-ray shielding from titanium, when lead is 6 times lighter?

From the NASA web site for Juno: While other materials exist that make good radiation blockers, engineers chose titanium because lead is too soft to withstand the vibrations of launch, and some ...
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  • 12.3k
10 votes

Could an Apollo crew have been killed by Solar radiation?

Every Apollo mission sent to the moon was a roll on the dice praying like hell that a major solar flare wouldn't be sending an ejection Earthside. This is why NASA didn't raise that much of a fuss ...
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8 votes
Accepted

Choosing thickness of a Whipple shield

This is an incredibly complex problem, so the only way I can think of usefully answering your question is by referring you to NASA's Micrometeoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) Shield Ballistic Limit ...
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  • 75.6k
8 votes

Could an Apollo crew have been killed by Solar radiation?

Yes, they could have been killed if a solar flare had erupted. My 1st-year university essay which I wrote in 2009 as a 64 year old mature student, refuting the dilly claims of the 2001 made-for-...
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  • 527
8 votes

Can a flock of birds crash a rocket?

As noted in Johnny Robinson's answer, there has been at least one recorded incidence of bird strike during launch. This was STS-114, the first Shuttle launch after the fateful STS-107 mission. That ...
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  • 65.6k
7 votes

Would a Europa lander need radiation shielding similar to Juno?

That depends on where the spacecraft lands. The radiation belts rotate faster than the moon so the trailing side of Europa gets a lot of radiation while the leading side gets relatively little. It ...
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  • 1,486
7 votes

Space Station Battle: Could the Almaz gun depressurize the ISS?

Extrapolation is always dangerous but here's my shot at it. I assumed the bullet was a chunk of lead. I have no way of incorporating the effects of any kind of explosive charge in the bullet. ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Using tardigrades as space shielding

This would not be very feasible. There are several reasons. First, living creatures are unpredictable and uncontrollable. How could you be sure that all your tardigrades would maintain an even layer ...
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  • 5,571
7 votes
Accepted

Liquid shield for spacecraft?

Could liquid metal be made ferromagnetic by externally inducing an internal magnetic field? No. Metal is either ferromagnetic or not; this is a result of the quantum-mechanical interaction of ...
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7 votes
Accepted

Why make X-ray shielding from titanium, when lead is 6 times lighter?

First things first: A titanium [dentist's patient] apron would weigh about 6.6 times a lead apron. This is true in their specific example, because the mass attenuation coefficient of lead is ...
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6 votes

Could an Apollo crew have been killed by Solar radiation?

Part of the plan was to time the missions for a time period when the sun was not expected to be active. Secondary plan was to point the Service Module, getting as much mass between the astronauts and ...
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  • 76.7k
6 votes

Can Li-ion batteries replace parts of the physical structure of a spacecraft, such as the hull of a crewed spaceship?

The biggest argument against this is thermal control. Batteries are one of the most thermally sensitive components of spacecraft, and normally require careful thermal design to make sure they stay in ...
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  • 1,310
6 votes
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Can a flock of birds crash a rocket?

The space shuttle did launch through some birds at least one time with no Ill effects.
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6 votes
Accepted

What is the shielding capability of liquid metal compaired to solid metal?

The ability of a metal in the liquid state to block radiation is quite similar to the same metal in the solid state. Ability to block alpha, beta, gamma, and x-ray radiation typically scales with ...
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6 votes

Should man-made satellites feature an intelligent inverted "cow catcher"?

binaryfunt explained the problem with speeds and energies, but I'll comment on one your assumptions: My understanding is that since satellites gradually succumb to gravity their path is constantly ...
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  • 161
5 votes
Accepted

Is NASA doing research on "mini-magnetospheres" to protect crew from radiation in space?

I've been trying to find a link between the mini-magnetosphere actually created at Rutherford Appleton Labs (U.K.) in 2013 to NASA. So far there's only anecdotal reports and interviews none of which ...
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5 votes

How much power would a spacecraft's magnetic shield require?

This might be of interest: CERN, in collaboration with the European Space Radiation Super Conducting Shield project are using advances in super conductor technology to develop a super conducting ...
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4 votes
Accepted

Could an Apollo crew have been killed by Solar radiation?

There were plans in place to deal with a large scale CME. These storms would not have been instantly deadly, but could have caused a serious case of acute radiation syndrome. The plan was if such an ...
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  • 119k
4 votes
Accepted

Is exposure to cosmic radiation more dangerous on some body parts than on other?

Is radiation more dangerous to some parts of the body than to others? Yes. Health physics uses tissue weighting factors as a way of factoring in the relative sensitivity of different tissue types. ...
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  • 11.6k
4 votes

How heavy does radiation shielding have to be for a nuclear power plant on a crewed spaceship?

As little as three years ago you could go on to the OSTI website and freely download many studies on this topic produced by DOE and AEC laboratories. Unfortunately a few years ago the DOE started ...
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  • 494
4 votes

Could a Sun shield keep a rover cool daytime on Mercury?

As Hobbes pointed out, the ground under the rover will eventually warm up. Any thermal barrier only slows down the heat transfer. It would eventually cook from below. The only thing that I can ...
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