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Reducing Effective Dose and Cancer Risk for An Interplanetary Space Mission with Magnetic Shielding

K Ferrone1,2*, C Willis1, J Ma1, L Peterson3, F Guan1, S Kry1, (1) The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center, Houston, TX, (2) The Aerospace Corporation, Houston, TX (3) Houston Methodist Research Institute, Houston, TX


(Sunday, 7/12/2020)   [Eastern Time (GMT-4)]

Room: AAPM ePoster Library

Purpose: Carcinogenesis is one of the top risks to astronauts embarking on an interplanetary mission due to the high radiation dose expected from galactic cosmic rays and solar particle events. This study examined the shielding benefits of superconducting magnets compared to the existing passive option of a water wall in terms of reducing the risk to astronauts below NASA’s radiation risk threshold. This study also explored which particles and which organs are most at risk during such a mission.
Methods: This project compared three active magnetic shielding methods in GEANT4 and determined their relative effectiveness at reducing space radiation cancer risk in the context of NASA’s risk models and permissible limits. In addition to magnetic shielding model (toroid, solenoid, and race track), magnetic field strengths from 1.5 to 7 T were evaluated, as were mission and astronaut characteristics, including mission duration, solar cycle, and astronaut age and sex. Established space radiation environment models were used, as was a likely spacecraft architecture, to ensure the simulations were as realistic as possible.
Results: Results showed that few active magnetic shielding options (and no current passive shielding options) were able to meet current risk tolerance limits without relying on astronauts of advanced age (>60 years). However, all of the magnetic shielding options substantially reduced risk given high magnetic field strength (7 Tesla). Also, results showed that galactic cosmic ray protons are the radiation species providing the majority of effective dose, and active bone marrow is the organ with highest relative cancer risk on this type of mission.
Conclusion: Substantial effort will be required by space agencies to reduce the radiation risk to astronauts for this type of mission. With this information, space agencies can take strategic steps to advance magnetic shielding technology from the conceptual realm into a near-term solution enabling interplanetary travel.

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Funding Support, Disclosures, and Conflict of Interest: This work was partially funded by the presenting author's graduate fellowship provided by The Aerospace Corporation, El Segundo, California.


Anatomical Models, Dosimetry, Monte Carlo


Not Applicable / None Entered.

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