Staying safe in space: UW researchers work to protect astronauts from cosmic radiation

From Mars missions to moon colonies, the human species has some ambitious travel plans in the works — ones that stretch way beyond our planet.

“Space exploration is the big challenge of this century,” said Elena D’Onghia, an associate professor of astronomy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

But space is full of dangers for human travelers. And one big concern for longer missions is the issue of cosmic radiation — energetic particles that float around in space and can cause damage to the human body.

Now, D’Onghia and other UW researchers are trying to figure out a way to shield astronauts from these particles as they make their way deeper into the solar system. Her team recently received funding from NASA to keep working on their concept — a portable magnetic field that can deflect radiation from a spacecraft.

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Note: See also this D2P innovator profile of Elena D’Onghia and Paolo Desiati.