January 15, 2011

Mini-magnetosphere prototype protects against simulated solar storms and enabling safe manned interplanetary missions

Universe Today reports that UK scientists working at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory near Oxford and the universities of York and Strathclyde have tested a “mini-magnetosphere” enveloping a model spacecraft in the lab. It turns out that their prototype offers almost total protection against high energy solar particles. By mimicking the natural protective environment of the Earth, the researchers have scaled the protective magnetic bubble down into an energy efficient, yet powerful deflector shield.

UK Telegraph had the original report

This astounding achievement is a big step toward protecting sensitive electronics and the delicate human body against the radioactive effects of manned missions between the planets.

Earlier paper from 2008 - The interaction of a flowing plasma with a dipole magnetic field: measurements and modelling of a diamagnetic cavity relevant to spacecraft protection

Minimag presenation from Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, early 2010



In results just published in the journal Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion, they have devised a system no bigger than a large desk that uses the same energy as an electric kettle. Two mini-magnetospheres will be contained within two mini satellites located outside the spaceship. Should there be an increase in solar wind flux, or an approaching cloud of energetic particles from a flare and/or coronal mass ejection (CME), the magnetospheres can be switched on and the solar ions are deflected away from the spacecraft.


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