EU project SR2S pursues magnetic radiation shield

I mentioned yesterday that radiation shielding material for in-space transports could one day be supplemented with magnetic shielding. By chance, Universe Today has a post linking to the EU sponsored project –  SR2S (Space Radiation Superconducting Shield) – which is investigating the use of toroidal coils with high-temp superconductors for shielding: Can A Mega-Magnetic Field Protect Astronauts From Radiation? – Universe Today.

Here is a video by the project leader:

The site provides this poster:

sr2s_poster_13-09_largeClick for large image.


Here is a description of the project on their site:

EU Space Project will allow astronauts to undergo deep space travel
Head of project says shield based on super conducting magnets will protect astronauts.

Head of EU Project Space Radiation Superconductive Shield (SR2S) Professor Roberto Battiston believes that the SR2S project will solve the issue of radiation protection in three years and has called on his fellow academics in space research to develop the technology to allow both male and female astronauts to undertake deep space missions. Battiston believes that there is no reason why space technology cannot be sufficiently developed to allow both genders to withstand a long duration stay in space and thus increasing the number of astronauts available to undertake missions.

Professor Battiston, Project Coordinator of SR2S said “We have already made significant progress since the beginning of the project and believe we will succeed in this goal of solving the radiation protection issue. In the last few months the international teams working at CERN have solved two major technical issues relevant to the superconducting magnets in space (i) how to make very long high temperature superconducting cables join together in a shorter segment without losing the superconducting properties and (ii) how to ensure protection of long high temperature cables from a quench. These developments open the way to larger and more effective space radiation shields and in turn facilitates deep space travel for female astronauts”

The SR2S superconducting shield will provide an intense magnetic field, 3,000 times stronger than the Earth’s magnetic field and will be confined around the space craft. The magnetic fields will extend to about 10 metres in diameter and ionizing particles will be deflected away. Only the most energetic particles will penetrate the superconducting shield but these will contribute the least to the absorbed radiation dose as their flux is negligible. This will address the issue of suitability of people for space travel as it will open up eligibility for space travel regardless of gender.

Professor Battiston continued “This situation is critical. According to our present knowledge only a very small fraction of NASA’s active astronauts are suitable to stay on the ISS for a one year mission regardless of the fact that the exposure to radiation is two times less than the exposure during deep space travel. Researchers must focus on both genders in current and future studies. The next exploration challenges, deep space travel to Near Earth Asteroids and long duration stay on Mars and on the moon, require an effective way to actively shield astronauts.”

The collaborative programme has a specialist team exploring the development of magnetic shield technology based on super conducting magnets to protect astronauts on deep space missions. The development of such technology would help further space science and exploration and enable long human permanence in space, the next stage in space travel, and enable more astronauts to travel, regardless of gender.

See also EU Space Project Team Announced – SR2S.

Find more resources about radiation shielding, including electrostatic and magnetic schemes, in the HobbySpace Living in Space section.