Diamagnetic Cavity Shield For Spacecraft?

A spacecraft could be protected from radiation with a dipolelike magnetic field and plasma; it could surround a spacecraft like a ’mini magnetosphere.’ Reseachers in the UK, Portugal and Sweden announced the work in this month's Plasma Physics and Controlled Fusion.

Spacecraft venturing to the planets will need to be outfitted with some sort of protection against radiation like that associated with the solar wind, a low-density plasma that constantly flows outward from the sun.


(Diamagnetic cavity could protect spacecraft [pdf])
dHybrid simulation results showing the appearance of diamagnetic-like cavity... In particular, the characteristic scale lengths of the transport barrier (apparent from the brighter regions of higher density) are well matched with experiment...

Initial laboratory experiments seem to hold out the possibility that the solar wind could be deflected around an appropriately equipped spacecraft.

Visible light imaging of the system indicates that the plasma beam is deflected into a thin annular shell, the interior of which appears to be devoid of plasma...

Initial hybrid modelling of the system with the dHybrid code shows very good agreement with the experimental results, reproducing well the measured ‘stand-off’ distance and the overall spatial scale of the diamagnetic cavity. In addition the scale length of the transport barrier region is consistent with experimental results...

Force shields, also called deflector shields, have long been a science fiction staple. The general idea was described in such early works as E.E. 'Doc' Smith's 1934 Triplanetary; see the entry for protective shield. The general term shield for a protective energy barrier was probably first used by Smith.

The rise of special effects images in films has also given the public imagination much to work on; take a look at this depiction of a force shield from Star Trek: The Next Generation.


(Force shield protection against the Borg)

An early representation may be recalled by older fans; take a look at the Martian shield from the 1953 movie version of H.G. Well's 1898 novel The War of the Worlds.


(Martians protect themselves with shields in 1953 movie version)

See also the "Star Trek-like shield" picture in an earlier article Deflector Shields For Spacecraft?. From The interaction of a flowing plasma with a dipole magnetic field: measurements and modelling of a diamagnetic cavity relevant to spacecraft protection [pdf]; thanks to Moira for pointing this one out.

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