Radiation is Fun: Mars Mission Radiation Shield Competition

Here at Lancs Industries, we manufacture, design and sell all number of radiation shielding products. That includes the creation and development of products or clothing that are specifically tailored for our clients’ needs. It turns out that we aren’t the only ones interested in creating solutions for complex radiation exposure solutions; NASA recently held a competition – open to the public – with the goal of netting new ideas and/or inventions for how to protect and shield Mars- and deep space-bound astronauts.

NASA’s Mars Mission Radiation Shield Competition Nets 5 Winners

Once individuals leave earth’s atmosphere and its strong magnetic field, they are exposed to considerable amounts of radiation. Part of that exposure comes from the sun, the rest from galactic cosmic rays (GCRs). These rays are thought to be high-energy particles that are created by super novas and they generate a very unique form of radiation. So, in an effort to protect astronauts and future human space travelers, NASA held a public competition, seeking sensible and applicable solutions that will allow humans to navigate comfortably and efficiently in space while enjoying protection from the GCR’s harmful radiation.

The radiation found in deep space is very different from the radiation found here on planet Earth. Scientists are only beginning to understand its differences and how it affects the human body, tissues and DNA. For that reason, it’s important to protect those who will be exposed to it, especially those who are going to travel to on the Mars expedition and/or to other asteroids. CLICK HERE to view an infographic covering how radiation in space poses a threat to astronauts.

As it stands now, a roundtrip visit to Mars will require anywhere from about 500 to 1000 days (can you imagine taking a three-plus year working trip to space? Kudos to those astronauts, we think we’ll stay right here on Earth’s surface). That’s a long time to be exposed to high levels of radiation, which is why reliable radiation protection is so important.

The Mars Exploration Design Challenge is Open to Everyone

These challenges are open to everyone – children, adults, students, retirees – and education levels or certifications are irrelevant. NASA wants to pick our brains, and as long as the ideas and/or products are solid, they are interested in any and all ideas.
One challenge has already been conducted. More than 135 individuals and groups submitted proposals and from those, NASA selected 5 leading contenders. The winning proposal won $5000 while the remaining four proposals split a $7000 remaining kitty. The proposals were all submitted by adults (no surprise there), many of whom were affiliated with Universities. Their ideas ranged from actual plans for radiation shields to the formulation of mathematical calculations that would create an active radiation mitigation system.

Unfortunately, none of the proposals yielded bona fide solutions. However, NASA officials said that the ideas were both promising and innovative. Said Steve Rader, deputy manager of the Center of Excellence for Collaborative Innovation, “We are very impressed with the enthusiasm and sheer number of people from the public who showed interest in solving this very difficult problem for human space exploration.” Even so, NASA needs a solution so the design challenge has been re-established and the winning price is now $29,000.

Have a child or adult in your life who is interested in space exploration or innately drawn to physics, math, astronomy or the sciences? Get involved. Start creating. Your invention could allow the next phase of America’s deep space exploration. In the meantime, visit Lancs Industries for the radiation exposure solutions that work right here on good ol’ planet Earth.

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