Measuring space radiation shielding effectiveness
1 Kansas State University, Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Manhattan, KS, USA 66506 (current address)
2 NASA Johnson Space Center, Space Radiation Analysis Group, Houston, TX, USA 77058
3 NASA Johnson Space Center, Crew & Thermal Systems Division, Houston, TX, USA 77058
4 Old Dominion University, Department of Mathematics & Statistics, Norfolk, VA, USA 23529
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Published online: 25 September 2017
Passive radiation shielding is one strategy to mitigate the problem of space radiation exposure. While space vehicles are constructed largely of aluminum, polyethylene has been demonstrated to have superior shielding characteristics for both galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events due to the high hydrogen content. A method to calculate the shielding effectiveness of a material relative to reference material from Bragg peak measurements performed using energetic heavy charged particles is described. Using accelerated alpha particles at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory, the method is applied to sample tiles from the Heat Melt Compactor, which were created by melting material from a simulated astronaut waste stream, consisting of materials such as trash and unconsumed food. The shielding effectiveness calculated from measurements of the Heat Melt Compactor sample tiles is about 10% less than the shielding effectiveness of polyethylene. Shielding material produced from the astronaut waste stream in the form of Heat Melt Compactor tiles is therefore found to be an attractive solution for protection against space radiation.
© The Authors, published by EDP Sciences, 2017
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