Harsh space radiation environment poses a major hurdle for deep space exploration for space exploration beyond low Earth orbit (LEO).
Usually space vehicles are constructed from Aluminum and Titanium based materials for their strength and lightness.
Materials like Aluminium and Titanium are poor at shielding harmful radiation in space (such as cosmic rays, ions from sun etc.).
Further, these materials are known to cause secondary radiation which is also harmful to humans.
A recent patent reveals that NASA plans to use hydrogen as a shielding material. Hydrogen does not easily break down.
NASA has invented a cryogenic vessel that is formed in the shape of a shell that surrounds the crew capsule. This cryogenic vessel is filled with hydrogen. Hydrogen is maintained at a very low temperature such that hydrogen freezes into a liquid and solid.
The crew enters the protected shell via a bore in the center. This bore is covered by a conventional radiation shield such as polyethylene.
The cryogenic vessel provides a radiation shield to astronauts in DEEP space. Radiation protection for astronauts is critical for the future of human space flight.
This invention will enable NASA to consider longer human space missions, such as Human mission to Mars.