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Friday, May 26, 2006

Trashbag = Space ship cover?

Trash Bag
Trash Bag
Credit: Unknown
A new material, similar to trash bags, could help to protect astronauts on a mission to Mars. More effective at radiation shielding, less secondary radiation, and lighter than aluminum the material, dubbed RXF1 can be draped over the shell of the ship to protect it from radiation, and meteors. "Since it is a ballistic shield, it also deflects micrometeorites," says Raj Kaul, who had previously worked with similar materials in developing helicopter armor. "Since it's a fabric, it can be draped around molds and shaped into specific spacecraft components." As wonderful this material is, further research must be done to improve its melting point and flammability. Also, until we can have a reasonable model of how cosmic radiation causes cancer, we have no way of knowing if RXF1 is the right material for the job, but it is an encouraging start.

(More info: Science@NASA)

- posted by Jim @ 9:59 EST