September 05, 2015
Radiation Shielding Metal Foams Have Space Exploration Uses

Metal foams reduce the weight needed for radiation shielding.

Research from North Carolina State University shows that lightweight composite metal foams are effective at blocking X-rays, gamma rays and neutron radiation, and are capable of absorbing the energy of high impact collisions. The finding means the metal foams hold promise for use in nuclear safety, space exploration and medical technology applications.

A human trip to Mars poses a radiation brain damage threat. So lighter materials to protect against radiation would make a Mars trip more feasible, though still not sensible. I still think we should not go to Mars until robots have prepared safe living quarters and have built up enough infrastructure for energy, food production, and other needs to make a permanent Mars colony possible. We went to the Moon several times and that made for great TV (though not in the later trips). But humans haven't been back since Apollo in December 1972. That's over 42 years ago. So stunt space expeditions to show that humans can do something do not lead to permanent expansion of human presence into a new realm.

Metal foams are being developed for shielding in applications on Earth and the research is funded by the US Department of Energy.

"This work means there's an opportunity to use composite metal foam to develop safer systems for transporting nuclear waste, more efficient designs for spacecraft and nuclear structures, and new shielding for use in CT scanners," says Afsaneh Rabiei, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at NC State and corresponding author of a paper on the work.

Share |      Randall Parker, 2015 September 05 05:03 PM 

bob sykes said at September 6, 2015 5:17 AM:

Too funny/sad for words. The USA cannot put a man into low Earth orbit. We cannot even put a satellite into orbit without Russian rocket engines. The idea that the USA is going back to the Moon or Mars is absurd. We no longer have the fiscal, technological or human resources required for such an effort.

That is not to say that no humans will ever again go to the Moon or Mars, but if it happens those humans will be Russian and/or Chinese, most likely as a joint mission.

America's bright technological future is past. Only slow decline remains. Or maybe quick: Detroit, Camden, Newark, Baltimore ...

Lawrence said at September 13, 2015 6:17 PM:

The problem with stopping high energy photons and particles is that it requires mass to reduce the radiological effects on humans down to an acceptable level. While composite metal foams may be useful for space craft structures, they will likely have a minimal effect on the total amount of mass needed to provide safe passage for travelers to Mars.

Y said at September 14, 2015 4:29 AM:

"America's bright technological future is past."


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