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Center Independent Research & Development: KSC IRAD

Fabrication of Regolith-Derived Radiation Shield

Active Technology Project

Project Introduction

Mars and asteroids have little or no atmosphere, and do not possess a magnetosphere that can protect humans, mechanisms and electronics from damaging Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE) as does the Earth. These types of space radiation present one of the highest risks to a human crew during interplanetary journeys and to onboard electronics. This project aims to evaluate the effectiveness of carbonaceous asteroid materials as a potential radiation shielding material.

Mars and asteroids have little or no atmosphere, or a magnetosphere, to protect humans, mechanisms and electronics from damaging Galactic Cosmic Radiation (GCR) and solar particle events (SPE) as does the Earth. High energy protons are found in GCR and SPE, but the energy level is much higher for GCR (several GeV) compared to SPE (~10 MeV). These types of space radiation present one of the highest risks to a human crew during interplanetary journeys and to onboard electronics. This project aims at evaluating the effectiveness of carbonaceous asteroid materials as a potential radiation shielding material since they can contain hydrated minerals, and to fabricate protection panels using technology developed during FY14 project “3D Additive Construction with Regolith for Surface Systems”.  Surface Systems applications on Asteroids, the Moon, Mars and Martian moons will require the stabilization of loose, fine, dusty regolith to create a structure to mitigate radiation effects to protect humans, mechanisms, and electronics. This project will demonstrate in-situ construction of radiation shields using regolith simulants so that materials will not have to be transported from Earth.

Recent work performed at KSC has shown promising results in 3D printing a 0.2 meter dome from planetary regolith simulants using an existing 3D-positioning platform. This current project will utilize the 3D regolith printer technology to fabricate radiation shield elements that will be tested to determine their radiation stopping capability.

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