– Radiation is preventing us from space travel. It takes 2.5 meters of water to shield against gamma rays and a magnetic field only deflects large particles. How are we ever going to travel in space without radiation shielding?


Realistically, what would it actually take to protect against cosmic radiation? Can it even be done? What are some options?

In: Physics

Radiation isn’t “preventing” anything. We can fly through space, we just can’t fly through it *a lot,* because the danger comes primarily from repeated and extended exposure. A round-trip to Mars and back is going to increase your cancer *risk* by quite a lot, and it will probably be enough to ground any astronaut for the rest of their lives, but it’s not going to fry them.

> How are we ever going to travel in space without radiation shielding?

We won’t, we’ll need to come up with something.

There’s been a lot of research lately into Melanin which is showing it’s probably one of the best radiation shields you can use. It seems that nature came up with something pretty good.

We are far away from using melanin as a practical radiation shield, but research may pay the way for a kind of molecular paint we could spray onto metal that would absorb a lot of radiation.

Star Trek like magnetic shields is another option we are seriously looking at, but again far away from anything practical. Using magnetic shields to contain anything has been described as “trying to contain a liquid using loose rubber bands”

Lastly medical science may advance to the point of making it irrelevant. If we develop drugs or nanobots that can repair or protect us from radiation then shielding may become unnecessary.