Abu Dhabi professor wins NASA award for Mars shield idea
An Abu Dhabi academic has won a Nasa contest for his ideas on protecting astronauts from high-energy radiation on the long haul to Mars.
Dr George Hitt, an assistant professor at Khalifa University, proposed a reusable shield with which a spacecraft would link up after leaving the Earth’s orbit.
It would be uncoupled before entering Mars’s atmosphere then picked up for the trip back.
Dr Hitt said he was surprised to win the US$5,000 (Dh18,365) first prize for the contest, which he saw advertised in Scientific American magazine.
“I’ve never really received recognition on this level for work that I’ve done in the past,” he said.
At their closest, Mars and Earth are separated by tens of millions of kilometres. Astronauts would be vulnerable to the high-energy radiation, or galactic cosmic rays, that can pass through spacecraft hulls and damage human cells.
Those rays come from outside the solar system and consist of protons, the positively charged particles in the nucleus of atoms.
The outer part of Dr Hitt’s shield would be made of high-density materials to absorb the rays. Inside would be less dense materials to absorb secondary radiation from when the rays hit the shield. Read More