Weekly Space Hangout: June 15, 2022: CREW HaT: An Answer to Radiation Shielding? with NIAC 2022 Awardee Dr. Elena D’Onghia

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As humanity dreams of exploring destinations both within our own solar system as well as those far beyond, the greatest challenge to be overcome is how to provide effective protection against the inevitable, prolonged exposure to lethal levels of radiation. We all know that Earth’s strong magnetic field continually protects us. But can a sufficiently strong magnetic field be generated aboard a spacecraft? 2022 NIAC winner Dr. Elena D’Onghia joins us tonight to discuss a new concept that may just be the solution we need!

Elena is an associate professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison’s Department of Astronomy, and the principal investigator for this innovative concept called CREW HaT which stands for Cosmic Radiation Extended Warding using the Halbach Torus. The project, which has been awarded funding from NASA Innovative Advanced Concepts (NIAC), incorporates superconductive tape technology, a deployable design, and a Halbach Torus (shown in tonight’s thumbnail). The Halbach Torus is a circular array of magnets that generates an asymmetric magnetic field with an enhanced magnetic field outside of a spacecraft that diverts cosmic radiation particles and a suppressed magnetic field within the astronaut’s habitat.

Dr. Elena D’Onghia is an Associate Professor in the Astronomy Department at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Prior to joining UWM, she was a Postdoctoral Researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.

Elena’s research combines unique analytic models and high-resolution numerical simulations to get new insights into the dynamical processes that form the stellar skeleton of our Galaxy.

You can learn more about Elena on her UWM faculty page.

And be sure to check out the Mad Astro Dynamics Research Group at UWM.

You can read more about CREW HaT here.

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