Energy shields haven't arrived just yet, but this magnetic heat shield could do nicely in the meantime. European researchers have created a magnetic field technology that can protect spacecraft from fiery atmospheric temperatures during reentry, and perhaps cut back on the need for traditional heat shields.
A superconducting coil would generate the magnetic field that envelops the spacecraft and protects its leading edge during reentry. Then comes the test: a Russian submarine-launched ballistic missile called the Volna would loft the experimental flight into suborbital trajectory, so that the test vehicle could dive back into the atmosphere at Mach 21.
The technology's development is headed by Aerospace giant EADS Astrium, which has also tinkered with an orbital debris shroud and a gravity tractor to deflect killer asteroids. Both the German DLR space agency and the European Space Agency have also signed onto the project.
NASA has played with inflatable heat shield technology that could cut down the weight load for Earth or Mars missions. But the U.S. space agency would probably also join in our excitement over the impending debut of Europe's magnetic variant.
This is promising. It is yet another small piece of the puzzel to help us colonize space one day. I wonder... if they ramped up the power of the field could it effect things like bullets? Bullets are magnetic right? And they give of two major types of energy. Kinetic and heat.
This is very similar to the radiation shield that I commented about in a previous article. I hope these tests go well, because it will be an important first step toward implementing this technology toward radiation shielding as well as heat shielding.
I hope this works, I'm tired of NASA complaining about their poor heat shielding on the shuttles.
Wonder if this could be advanced/tuned to protecting against nuclear blasts.........
I believe the principle this is being based on is that hot air turns into plasma, so if you use a magnetic field to deflect the plasma, preventing your spacecraft from burning up. This wouldn't work on bullets, since they would be attracted to a magnetic field, not repelled.
Also, protecting something from plasma is really of minimal concern when it comes to nuclear blasts. The shockwave, and radiation are the main problems, and most of that can't be deflected by an electromagnet.
The real question is will the batteries and coolant have less mass than the difference in traditional heat shielding.
I heard rumors before the end of the cold war that the Russians had been using this sort of technology in secret on their Migs to help them attain higher mach speeds. I heard it called "plasma sheath" or "plasma cone" technology.
Isn't strange that a Russian nuclear MIRV's (Volna) advancement is heralded as an advancement, yet we have ceased nuclear weapons development because it is too provocative? Perhaps we can outsource the next generation of nuclear weapons to India and Pakistan because we are stuck with 1970’s nuclear technology.