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Objective: Is a 100% Radiation Proof Spacesuit Possible?


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Answer?

I want to say yes...but as you know, the universe is like:

"Sure...you can do anything you want...if you are willing to PAY for it and you KNOW what to pay with."

By pay the universe usually means mass and energy, and knowledge is required to know what specific combo of mass and energy to use.

So what would a 100% proof radiation spacesuit look like?

Not unlike this I presume:

lOB48J4OIfCdVJJ3LewJi2PPgLBvfovAUfvDpTFO

I know glass helmets are cool for scifi but they are anything but radiation proof.

Radiation Proof Requirements: I want 100%. radiation protection, not 50%, and definitely not the barely any at all like IRL. It need not stay that way forever if constantly bombarded by radiation, rather it needs a 'shelf life' that can tank radiation flawlessly for hours on end before it begins to gradually fail. Which is still better than IRL spacesuits that barely protect astronauts from radiation.

 

Material solutions: Outer hull of suit probably made of lead. Secondary hull probably some hydrogen plastic. I can't think of any other materials that can block out the full array of deadly EM the cosmos puts out.

What do you have to solve this?

Is it even a practical thing to solve in tjis manner?

Or is the dream of a 100% radiation proof spacesuit only a dream?

Even if it only is radiation proof a limited time, like 8 hours?

Edited by Spacescifi
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"100%" is asking a lot when dealing with probabilistic phenomena. Radiation shielding is basically throwing enough matter in the way of approaching radiation that it's more likely that an incoming photon smacks into an atom that isn't you. You're hoping that the shield is thick enough so most of the harmful radiation is being blocked. Most. Matter is mostly empty space, and unless you can get your hands on some neutronium to use as a shield, they're be a chance radiation will come through, at least when dealing with gamma radiation.

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Scrith is a fictional material from Larry Niven's Known Space series. It is relatively lightweight,  but can block neutron radiation equivalent to roughly a lightyear-thickness of lead, and can block 40% of neutrinos.

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24 minutes ago, NFUN said:

"100%" is asking a lot when dealing with probabilistic phenomena. Radiation shielding is basically throwing enough matter in the way of approaching radiation that it's more likely that an incoming photon smacks into an atom that isn't you. You're hoping that the shield is thick enough so most of the harmful radiation is being blocked. Most. Matter is mostly empty space, and unless you can get your hands on some neutronium to use as a shield, they're be a chance radiation will come through, at least when dealing with gamma radiation.

 

Hmmm...perhaps the scifi answer would be greater atomic control? Like program the atoms of the suit to move to intercept radiation...that seems like too much to ask though.

Perhaps mirrors?

Gamma ray mirrors would be nice if we had them. I suppose if we had 100% reflective mirrors of EM that would also work...at the expense of slowly cooking the astronaut inside once or if the cooling system died.

Neutron mirrors? Probably too much to ask LOL. Would be nice though.

6 minutes ago, starcaptain said:

Scrith is a fictional material from Larry Niven's Known Space series. It is relatively lightweight,  but can block neutron radiation equivalent to roughly a lightyear-thickness of lead, and can block 40% of neutrinos.

 

Thanks...I wanted to know if there was an IRL alternative.

I am quite able and ready to use make-believe, but it is not my first resort if IRL can handle the matter at hand just fine.

Same reason I prefer kinetics over lasers, since kinetics are far more efficient at DPS.

Edited by Spacescifi
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Easily.

Welcome the Magnificent Probabilistic Waving-Functional Specteral Cloak.

Blur your wave function, be with some probability at once here and somewhere there, let all kinds of radiation except visible light pass through the ethereal specter of yours, without a contact.

Buying one today, you get a bonus for free: our Cloak allows you to recollapse your wave function at any desired place, so you don't need a teleporter anymore.

For the creatures of Night an infrared model is available.

Edited by kerbiloid
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48 minutes ago, kerbiloid said:

Easily.

Welcome the Magnificent Probabilistic Waving-Functional Specteral Cloak.

Blur your wave function, be with some probability at once here and somewhere there, let all kinds of radiation except visible light pass through the ethereal specter of yours, without a contact.

Buying one today, you get a bonus for free: our Cloak allows you to recollapse your wave function at any desired place, so you don't need a teleporter anymore.

For the creatures of Night an infrared model is available.

 

You just went probably beyond scifi...since you love hyperbole.

That is more or less similar to what Biblical angels did. Standing in fire or going into it unharmed.

 

 

Edited by Spacescifi
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4 hours ago, NFUN said:

"100%" is asking a lot when dealing with probabilistic phenomena. Radiation shielding is basically throwing enough matter in the way of approaching radiation that it's more likely that an incoming photon smacks into an atom that isn't you. You're hoping that the shield is thick enough so most of the harmful radiation is being blocked. Most. Matter is mostly empty space, and unless you can get your hands on some neutronium to use as a shield, they're be a chance radiation will come through, at least when dealing with gamma radiation.

This, now you can redirect charged particles with an magnetic field. Highly radioactive places in the solar system like the van alien belt and the stronger radiation belt of Jupiter consist mostly of charged particles.
An superconductor might let you make an strong enough magnetic shield. This is easier on an ship than an spacesuit but doing eva around the ship you would still be protected. 
Yes space also have gamma and x rays but this is no danger during normal eva trips but might be an issue if you do hours of eva every day as work. 
 

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Radiation comes in different forms, which makes this hard (And a lengthy answer, sorry dude)

Things like Cosmic Rays and the Van Allen belts are made mostly of Charged Particles (Cosmic Rays can have some High Z materials in them though, so not entirely). These are fairly "Easy" to deflect or redirect using Faraday cages or electromagnetic fields in the extreme cases, the Voyager probes used Aluminum Foil to shield their electronics from Jupiter's Belts for instance.

Then there's the stuff most people think of when talking "Radiation" which is ionizing, UV, X-Ray, Gamma. These require a much different solution, and will also degrade whatever materials exposed to them by occasionally breaking the lattice structures of most materials. So you need mass, and density on top. There's no easy way around this unfortunately, but if we're in the future powered exoskeletons are likely a thing. So you can have a much greater amount of mass.

And then there's the really, really fun one, Neutron Radiation. These have no charge, and are almost as massive as protons. So they can ignore most things in their way, and do significant damage while barrelling their way through. But they also have a really unique property, Isotopes are something you've probably heard of. Well Isotopes have the same Proton Number, but different amounts of Neutrons. And many of these are wildly radioactive, so Neutrons can "Activate" materials we normally don't think of as radioactive into Isotopes that belch hard gamma for potentially hours to years.

Your best bet is to shield with something that contains a large amount of hydrogen, as it's just a proton and electron and the chance of any single H atom capturing a Neutron is low. As the neutron scatters, it will stop at some point. The two isotopes of hydrogen are Deuterium (Stable, and not radioactive) and Tritium (Half Life 12.7 yrs~, mild beta emitter). But as the formation of the latter requires 2 capture events, it's extremely unlikely unless you're directly in front of a strong Neutron source.

Water, Paraffin Wax and Hydrocarbons can all be used for Neutron Shielding (Carbon also is rather difficult to Activate thankfully).

But there's another subset, and it's an important one to consider in this context.

Bremsstrahlung (Braking) radiation is produced when you take high speed radiation, and smack it into your brick wall of protons and electrons. It's due to the conservation of energy, that momentum MUST be conserved and for things like photons and electrons there's only one really viable way to do it. Emitting massive amounts of hard gamma as they decelerate. So if you're depending entirely on high Z materials like lead, tungsten or iridium to protect you, depending on how absolutely bathed in radiation you are it might ironically backfire on you due to this. So you're going to want some way to slow the incoming radiation down ideally, so that you can keep these events to a minimum.

So my answer would be that 100% is basically impossible for ALL radiation at ALL times, but you can approach it if you know the conditions beforehand and have multiple choices for your suit. Modular systems would work wonders here.

And there's also the other wild card....does it/will it matter? Humans are some of the most fragile organisms on the planet when it comes to how radiation affects us, and we already can see genetic technologies on the horizon today. In the near/far future, I'd imagine genetic modifications to enhance our own ability to handle radiation would be mandatory for anyone serving on a ship.

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13 hours ago, Incarnation of Chaos said:

Radiation comes in different forms, which makes this hard (And a lengthy answer, sorry dude)

Things like Cosmic Rays and the Van Allen belts are made mostly of Charged Particles (Cosmic Rays can have some High Z materials in them though, so not entirely). These are fairly "Easy" to deflect or redirect using Faraday cages or electromagnetic fields in the extreme cases, the Voyager probes used Aluminum Foil to shield their electronics from Jupiter's Belts for instance.

Then there's the stuff most people think of when talking "Radiation" which is ionizing, UV, X-Ray, Gamma. These require a much different solution, and will also degrade whatever materials exposed to them by occasionally breaking the lattice structures of most materials. So you need mass, and density on top. There's no easy way around this unfortunately, but if we're in the future powered exoskeletons are likely a thing. So you can have a much greater amount of mass.

And then there's the really, really fun one, Neutron Radiation. These have no charge, and are almost as massive as protons. So they can ignore most things in their way, and do significant damage while barrelling their way through. But they also have a really unique property, Isotopes are something you've probably heard of. Well Isotopes have the same Proton Number, but different amounts of Neutrons. And many of these are wildly radioactive, so Neutrons can "Activate" materials we normally don't think of as radioactive into Isotopes that belch hard gamma for potentially hours to years.

Your best bet is to shield with something that contains a large amount of hydrogen, as it's just a proton and electron and the chance of any single H atom capturing a Neutron is low. As the neutron scatters, it will stop at some point. The two isotopes of hydrogen are Deuterium (Stable, and not radioactive) and Tritium (Half Life 12.7 yrs~, mild beta emitter). But as the formation of the latter requires 2 capture events, it's extremely unlikely unless you're directly in front of a strong Neutron source.

Water, Paraffin Wax and Hydrocarbons can all be used for Neutron Shielding (Carbon also is rather difficult to Activate thankfully).

But there's another subset, and it's an important one to consider in this context.

Bremsstrahlung (Braking) radiation is produced when you take high speed radiation, and smack it into your brick wall of protons and electrons. It's due to the conservation of energy, that momentum MUST be conserved and for things like photons and electrons there's only one really viable way to do it. Emitting massive amounts of hard gamma as they decelerate. So if you're depending entirely on high Z materials like lead, tungsten or iridium to protect you, depending on how absolutely bathed in radiation you are it might ironically backfire on you due to this. So you're going to want some way to slow the incoming radiation down ideally, so that you can keep these events to a minimum.

So my answer would be that 100% is basically impossible for ALL radiation at ALL times, but you can approach it if you know the conditions beforehand and have multiple choices for your suit. Modular systems would work wonders here.

And there's also the other wild card....does it/will it matter? Humans are some of the most fragile organisms on the planet when it comes to how radiation affects us, and we already can see genetic technologies on the horizon today. In the near/far future, I'd imagine genetic modifications to enhance our own ability to handle radiation would be mandatory for anyone serving on a ship.

 

Thanks...I was looking for IRL plot enablers. There are none sufficient enough.

So I guess I will use my version of a goauld sarcophagus....only it is a Biological Restoration Unit (BRU).

Meaning you step in for your restore point BEFORE launch to space, and when space makes you sick somehow you restore by stepping in again.

The price to pay? Memories. You're memories are reset to prelaunch too at the restore point.

So crew would need to keep goid journals and records so they are not clueless once they reset.

Bonus? Could live forever resetting...at the cost of memory of what you did each time, aside from records you leave behind for you to view later.

Multiple restore points allow you to relive ANY age saved...with records of who you were as an older person readily available.

Edited by Spacescifi
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18 hours ago, tomf said:

I don't care how clever and good your sheilding material is. Nothing short of magic is blocking the radiation in this scenario
https://what-if.xkcd.com/73/

At that point, you better hope you have access to higher dimensions and can just pop into a pocket dimension for a tiny bit while the star does it's thing xD

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No matter how good your radiation shielding is, it can't stop everything. Any amount of radiation shielding is insufficient against an arbitrarily high source of radiation.

Also, we need to define what kind of radiation... EM radiation like X-rays or gamma-rays, or particle radiation? For gamma radiation, you basically just need to put mass between you and the source. Dense material like lead is attractive for reducing bulk, but you still need a similar amount of mass. A suit to protectagainst gamma rays would be prohibitively massive, even if it wasn't bulky.

Blocking alpha radiation on the other hand... easy peasy.

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  • 1 month later...

I think it's impossible these days. First of all, we shouldn't forget that degree of protection depends on the type and level of radiation. We can't create a spacesuit that will protect a person from different types of radiation because they require specific materials and specific manufacturing technology. But I'm not ruling out that engineers will invent such technology in the future.

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On 1/10/2021 at 11:03 PM, NFUN said:

"100%" is asking a lot when dealing with probabilistic phenomena. Radiation shielding is basically throwing enough matter in the way of approaching radiation that it's more likely that an incoming photon smacks into an atom that isn't you. You're hoping that the shield is thick enough so most of the harmful radiation is being blocked. Most. Matter is mostly empty space, and unless you can get your hands on some neutronium to use as a shield, they're be a chance radiation will come through, at least when dealing with gamma radiation.

100% is not only impossible, it also means you can't see out the visor (gotta shield those nasty EM photons).  I'd suggest "Earth level radiation".  Letting enough UV through for vitamin-D effects without melanoma would also be a plus.

Extreme cases would probably look like body armor (either renaissance or modern "trauma plate" armor), presumably depleted uranium as a primary shield with lead as a secondary shield and protection from the U238 itself (unless you are worried about neutron bombardment, in which case U238 might not be ideal...).

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