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Assessment of Shielding Material Performance for Deep Space Missions

  • L. K. Mansur (a1), B. J. Frame (a1), N. C. Gallego (a1), S. B. Guetersloh (a2), J. O. Johnson (a1), J. W. Klett (a1) and L. W. Townsend (a3)...

Abstract

Radiation doses from galactic cosmic rays (GCR) are a significant issue for spacecraft crew exposures in deep space. We report initial work to evaluate a range of materials for GCR shielding. Earlier work has shown that conventional spacecraft materials, aluminum and higher atomic number structural alloys, provide relatively little shielding and, under certain conditions, may increase radiation risk. Materials containing high proportions of hydrogen and other low atomic mass nuclei provide improved GCR shielding. Polyethylene (PE) is generally considered a good performance benchmark shield material. However, PE shielding occupies volume and adds mass to the spacecraft. In this work we investigate several materials that are shown to provide shielding similar to PE, but which could furnish additional spacecraft functions, possibly eliminating the need for materials currently used for structural support or thermal management. Carbon forms that can incorporate a large mass of hydrogen, as well as polymers and polymer composites are being explored. Calculations of shielding effectiveness in GCR spectra have been carried out. Experiments to measure shielding properties recently have been completed at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) located at Brookhaven National Laboratory (BNL) using high energy beans of O16. In this paper we report preliminary shielding results.

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