Thursday, 17 January 2013

The waste generated by astronauts can be reused as anti-radiation shield

The waste generated by astronauts can be reused as anti-radiation shield
Scientists at NASA's Kennedy Center have found a new use for waste generated by astronauts during a space mission: anti-radiation shields for deep space missions.

As explained by the U.S. space agency, so far, water bottles, pieces of clothing, bags or aluminum foil tape is compressed into discs about 20cm wide not only served to reduce space the ship.

Now, researchers believe that these discs have potential for use as radiation shields, due to the high amount of plastic containers that are made. "The idea is to make these records, if the plastic components are high enough, protect from radiation," said the study's lead author, Maria Hummerick.

Thus, explained that an increase in radiation shielding could be useful in the 'rooms' where the astronauts are asleep, or in regions of the spacecraft where the crew is exposed to solar flare effects.

The investigation is currently under evaluation and "everything is going well so far," stated Hummerick, who has indicated that it is evaluating whether the heating and compaction is effective in killing bacteria on the discs.

By the time "sterilization is achieved mostly", but what worries scientists is whether the bacteria can not survive then regrow.

NASA has stressed the importance that is given to waste management when planning a space mission due to overcrowding and extremely limited resources of the ship. 

"In space you can not throw garbage overboard, it can contaminate the surface of an asteroid only do that," he noted microbiologist Richard Strayer space agency.

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