Remember the asteroid mining article
where I’ve explained how companies are using these floating chunks of rocks for excavation? Turns out, asteroids don’t only provide unlimited platinum and gold, they may be lifesavers for astronauts as well. These have clay that can be used on deep space missions to shield against celestial radiation!
We all know how radiation can damage our bodies so it wouldn’t be surprising that radiation from cosmic rays risks the health of our astronauts especially during long space missions. A 2013 study even suggested that a return trip to Mars would expose astronauts to a lifetime’s dose in one go! So, if you want to actualize a Mars settlement
, perhaps utilizing asteroid clay would truly be helpful.
“Eventually everything should be able to be produced off Earth if any serious size outpost, base or colony is to be considered,” says Paul van Susante at Michigan Technological University.
Daniel Britt and Leos Pohl found that these clay are up to 10 per cent more effective than the available and presently used aluminum. These clay are rich in hydrogen-the most effective shielding material for protons and cosmic rays. So, for a long-term existence on the moon or Mars, we will need to utilize materials found in space, says Britt.
Well, again, this idea might have caused chuckles for this ‘futuristic notion’ seemed impossible and for now, how the clay could be extracted from the asteroids is still up for discussion. “No current machines exist for actual mining in zero gravity,” says van Susante. However, with the technological advancements (remember, we can mine asteroids now!), there would always be ways for it to be done.
“Doing anything in space is not trivial, but there are several paths forward,” Britt says. Indeed, the future is off earth and we should be exploring possibilities literally outside our horizons.