Yes. As the title brilliantly puts it, there have been developments in the area of protecting astronauts from deadly solar radiation. This radiation has been seen as one of the big obstacles to transporting astronauts over interplanetary distances:

Large numbers of these energetic particles occur intermittently as “storms” with little warning and are already known to pose the greatest threat to man. Nature helps protect the Earth by having a giant “magnetic bubble” around the planet called the magnetosphere.

Space craft visiting the Moon or Mars could maintain some of this protection by taking along their very own portable “mini”-magnetosphere. The idea has been around since the 1960’s but it was thought impractical because it was believed that only a very large (more than 100km wide) magnetic bubble could possibly work.

Computer simulations done by a team in Lisbon with scientists at Rutherford Appleton last year showed that theoretically a very much smaller “magnetic bubble” of only several hundred meters across would be enough to protect a spacecraft.

Now this has been confirmed in the laboratory in the UK using apparatus originally built to work on fusion. By recreating in miniature a tiny piece of the Solar Wind, scientists working in the laboratory were able to confirm that a small “hole” in the Solar Wind is all that would be needed to keep the astronauts safe on their journey to our nearest neighbours.

All in all good news – and since our Glorious Leaders were able to drop five huge into our bust financial system at short notice I am no longer concerned over the cost of long range manned space exploration.

[image from the Physorg story]


  1. It is amazing what the establishment (for want of a better word) can find the money for when it’s really important (to them), isn’t it?

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