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Strategy of Regolith Utilisation as Radiation Protection of Human Habitats for Long Duration Expeditions on the Moon and Mars

Implementation progress
06 October 2020

Duration: 36 months


This PhD will search for integrated solutions for building habitats protecting astronauts against Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR), Solar Particle Events (SPE), and secondary emissions using regolith as the main shielding material on the Moon and Mars. The novelty is twofold: in the constant considerations of all aspects of the multidisciplinary topic, from particle physics to materials sciences, from radiobiology to architectural design, and in the experimental validation of results. Although the main effort will be on particle-matter interactions, each quantitative result will be systematically translated in terms of radiobiological impact and architectural design. This will be possible by continuously interacting with physicists from TRAD, radiobiologists from INSERM, Medical Doctors at EAC and MEDES and architects of the ARCHES RST network on “Habitats in Extreme Conditions”. The expected output will be quantitative recommendations, expressed in engineering terms, for a strategy and specifications of regolith utilisation in habitats, emergency shelters and Extravehicular Mobility Units. Parts of the proposed design and prototypes will be exposed to radiation (Co-60, Thorium, stratospheric balloons) and tested thermo-mechanically. The PhD will characterise the particle-matter interactions between regolith and the GCR and SPE radiations, and study secondary emissions. Extra multilayer materials may be proposed and numerically tested using deterministic and probabilistic codes. Solutions for the reduction of organ-specific, whole-body doses and dose rates for both sexes will be sought. In this context the TRAD Monte Carlo tools, FASTRAD® and RayXpert®, will be used and adapted, and experimental validation of the theoretical findings with available radiation sources will be carried out. Through simulations and experiments with low- and high-energy protons, the habitat structure (location, wall thickness, compacity, composition) will be proposed.

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