We are researching new designs for space suits that will protect astronauts from the effects of cosmic radiation. Using a source of ionising radiation such as uranium, we measure the amount of radiation that penetrates an astronauts EVA suit, which currently provide very little protection against radiation.
We test various linings and layers in the space suits to reduce the amount of radiation that passes through, including methods such as using magnets to create a magnetic field which repels the radiation, although it’s usually necessary to utilise a superconducting magnet and research efforts are underway for the potential use of superconducting magnets to protect entire spacecraft.
Space suits are already very heavy so the protection needs to be lightweight for it to be practical for use in space suits.
Any manned interplanetary travel such as a mission to Mars would expose astronauts to high levels of cosmic radiation for a prolonged period of time, putting them at very high risk of brain damage and developing cancer.
If astronauts were on the surface of Jupiter's moon, Io, they would start to die of radiation poisoning after only a few hours.
In just one day on the surface, they would have been exposed to over 1,000 times more radiation than the Hiroshima atomic bomb explosion.