Take the 2-minute tour ×
Physics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for active researchers, academics and students of physics. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've read over the decades that a magnetic shield might protect a spacecraft from cosmic radiation. Its a fascinating idea that might only be theory or science fiction at the moment. In regards to that here is an article just in case someone isn't sure what I mean:

http://physicsworld.com/cws/article/news/2008/nov/06/magnetic-shield-could-protect-spacecraft

The article even mentions simulations about midway into the article. Does anyone know if research has continued?

My big question though, is how much electrical power would be required to protect a space vessel in this way? How large would the field be in order to be useful?

Better yet, please use some practical objects that anyone can wrap their head around: What if you were using similar technology to protect the Apollo Command Module? Or the Discovery One from 2001 (140 meters long).

In laymans terms, how much electrical power would it take to create a magnetic shield?

share|improve this question

closed as off-topic by jinawee, Kyle Kanos, Dimensio1n0, Brandon Enright, Qmechanic Feb 19 at 14:59

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "This question appears to be about engineering, which is the application of scientific knowledge to construct a solution to solve a specific problem. As such, it is off topic for this site, which deals with the science, whether theoretical or experimental, of how the natural world works. For more information, see this meta post." – jinawee, Kyle Kanos, Dimensio1n0, Brandon Enright, Qmechanic
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
The link you provide gives a link to the relevant paper on Plasma Phys. Control. Fusion, which you can then click the "Cited By" tab and see only 4 papers referencing that one, the latest in 2012. I am unsure if the work is stalled or if it's just not cited anymore because it's outdated. –  Kyle Kanos Feb 17 at 15:43
    
If superconductors were used, once you got them up to full field strength maintaining them should take little or no more power. I'm not sure how they'd be cooled though. Radiation to space is terribly slow. –  Brandon Enright Feb 17 at 16:45
    
What if there weren't any superconductors? –  Maelish Feb 18 at 2:11
    
While it might be an engineering question, I'll grant you that. There is no other forum on stack exchange that covers this type of question. Unless perhaps you mean the Space Exploration Beta? I could cross post there. –  Maelish Feb 21 at 3:36
add comment

1 Answer 1

If it is a supercon magnet, it runs without losses until the field is deformed by a solar coronal mass ejection blasting by. It offers no protection against energetic photons.

Consider a one tesla field filling a 200 m diameter bubble. How many joules is 4.2 million m^3 of one tesla field? (Suppose the field collapsed into a solenoid shorted by a resistor.) A quench would be messy. Photosynthesis and mammalian metabolism both go through free radical intermediates. A one tesla field polarizes unpaired spins parallel, a triplet sate, preventing bonding or certainly slowing its kinetics. An hour in an MRI tunnel is not six months. Metabolic discrepancies will accumulate.

$1 T = 1 \mathrm{N{\cdot}s{\cdot}C^{-1}{\cdot}m^{-1}}$
${PV = energy}$, 101.325 J/liter-atm

share|improve this answer
    
I don't really understand the math. Sorry, can you tell me in laymans terms please? –  Maelish Feb 18 at 2:11
    
The inflated magnetic field contains a HUGE amount of energy. If it suddenly collapses, power = energy/time. Shine a one watt light into your face for an hour, no biggie. Flash a 36 kilowatt light into your face for a tenth second, biggie. The field stressed by a solar burp warms the supercon solenoid and stresses its windings (Lorentz force). If one winding goes normal, BOOM! –  Uncle Al Feb 18 at 4:23
    
But how much power or electricity would it take to generate a field in the first place? Based on the 2 sizes I have asked about? –  Maelish Feb 18 at 14:41
add comment

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.