WIPAC scientist and collaborators develop magnetic shield to protect astronauts and computers

Cosmic rays are highly energetic charged particles—mostly protons—that are accelerated by some of the most violent objects in the universe. They are harmless to us here on Earth’s surface because we are protected by Earth’s magnetosphere, the region of space around our planet that is dominated by a system of magnetic fields; the protection even extends far enough to reach astronauts on the International Space Station. But once humans embark on interplanetary trips, Earth’s magnetosphere can no longer shield them, which means humans are exposed to dangerous levels of radiation.

That’s a problem that Dr. Paolo Desiati of the Wisconsin IceCube Particle Astrophysics Center (WIPAC), a research center at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, is trying to solve. In collaboration with UW astronomy professor Elena D’Onghia and Kieran Furlong, a senior fellow at UW–Madison’s COWS thinktank, Desiati is developing a magnetic shield that will divert space and cosmic ray radiation away from a volume—functioning kind of like Earth’s magnetosphere. In addition to protecting astronauts and instrumentation from space radiation during interplanetary travel, the technology has another application: protecting quantum computers from the harmful decoherence effects induced by cosmic ray muon radiation on Earth’s surface.

Read the full article at: https://wipac.wisc.edu/news/article/wipac-scientist-and-collaborators-develop-magnetic-shield-protect-astronauts-and