There’s at least a small handful of teams—NASA, the Chinese Space Agency, SpaceX, Mars One, and others—looking to put people on Mars in the next few decades. Other than the trouble involved in getting people to the red planet, landing them on the surface, giving them enough food and water to survive and stopping them from going crazy with isolation, there’s another big hurdle to jump: radiation. And not just measly, harmless radiation like from your cell phone. Space is full of galactic cosmic rays, incredibly high energy particles–like lead that’s moving near the speed of light. Galactic cosmic rays can blast through your DNA, shredding the bonds and increasing your risk of cancer. Stopping all this radiation is one of the challenges for anyone looking to send people far from Earth, and new research is pointing us in an unusual direction on how to do it: plastic spaceships. Aluminum, being both strong and light, is the material of choice for spaceship building. But aluminum isn’t so hot at blocking radiation. Plastic, on the other hand, seems to be way better. via Smart News.
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