Student: Trace Johnson, Undergraduate Student in Physics and Math, Drake University
Research Mentor: Athanasios Petridis
MISSFIT (Magneto-Ionization Spacecraft Shield for Interplanetary Travel)
Our collaboration’s research consists of designing a method to protect astronauts from interplanetary radiation that they will encounter on the trip to Mars. The acronym MISSFIT stands for Magneto-Ionization Spacecraft Shield For Interplanetary Travel. Our goal is to combine a strong magnetic field and gas ionization to deflect or absorb the energy of harmful particles. We are currently in the conceptual phase of our work. I help perform computer simulations of the expected array of radioactive particles. The simulations include propagation of radioactive particles in a magnetic field along with calculations to determine the energy loss a particle experiences while moving through a gaseous mixture. I also participate in the experimental portion of our group. This work involves exposing a fabric to radioactive sources in order to determine the fabric’s attenuation coefficient. We are hoping to study several fabrics and eventually find a suitable candidate for our design. While the work our collaboration does is still in the conceptual phase, it is rewarding to try to work our way towards a meaningful solution to such a complex problem.