In a breakthrough involving the protective element that goes into any manned deep space exploration missions, an Israeli startup StemRad based out of Tel Aviv has succeeded in developing a protective shield for astronauts to protect them from dangerous solar particles.
The shield has been developed by StemRad in collaboration with Lockheed Martin and after having been tested successfully in laboratory conditions would be sent to the moon in the next year for further testing. This phase of testing would involve two dummies being sent to the moon on NASA’s Orion spacecraft with one of them donning the protective shield and other serving as the control case. The dummies would consist of tissue density characteristics and anatomy similar to the humans. Upon being brought back to earth, each of the dummies would be tested for the level of solar particles that have penetrated through them during their stay on the moon with and without the protective shield.
The concern over the exposure to the deadly solar particles has been one of the challenges that the space exploration teams from all over the world have been facing for a long time. Prolonged exposure to solar particles has been known to cause severe damage to the stem cells and bone marrow in human beings causing them to be more susceptible to ailments like cancer etc. The Magnetic field around the earth is what protects the life forms on earth from the debilitating radiations in the form of solar particles from the sun.
Dr Oren Milstein, founder and chief scientific officer of StemRad, quoted, “This product will enable human deep space exploration. Our breakthrough has come in creating the architecture of the multi-layered shield to accurately cover the most important organs.”
The shield which will be in the form of a vest and would be custom made according to the size of the astronauts involved in the deep space exploration project is made up of specially engineered nano-material and is non-metallic in nature. This amazing piece of gear, if tested successful, would be used for protecting the NASA crew going on a manned mission to Mars in 2021.
The firm StemRad has made itself a name by making protective belts for workers working in dangerous conditions such as in the case of nuclear disasters to shield them from gamma radiations.