Textile engineering students at North Carolina State University (NCSU) have the next manned moon landing covered with a blanket that protects lunar outposts from radiation while storing energy for astronauts’ use. The project, one of 10 finalists in the Revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concepts Academic Linkage competition, tackles one of NASA’s key concerns about moon missions that will likely last months at a time—cosmic rays and solar flares that make dangerous radiation hard to stop.
The “lunar texshield” is made from a lightweight polymer composite with a layer of radiation shielding that deflects or absorbs radiation. The outer shield layer includes solar cells to generate electricity. The design is flexible, lightweight, has a large surface area, and is easy to transport and deploy. “We understand the properties associated with different textile materials,” says Dr. Warren Jasper, NCSU professor of textile engineering and project advisor. “That gives us unique insight on how to troubleshoot some of these issues.”