The agency has announced a design competition for folding screens using the principles of making paper figurines.
Cosmic radiation is one of the main threats to humans outside the Earth. Exposure to high-energy particles is dangerous both for the health of astronauts and for the operation of technology. Therefore, the development of anti-radiation shields remains the most important area of research.
NASA has announced the start of a new crowdsourcing project: this time, the agency is looking for origami experts. The principles of the art of paper folding can be indispensable for the packaging of aluminum shields that are lightweight but large in size. Acceptance of applications opens on July 26, you can send projects through the Freelancer platform.
There are various technologies for the manufacture of protective screens. Most often they are based on aluminum with various additions. Polyethylene is actively used to protect space missions with the participation of astronauts. For unmanned devices, screens with the addition of heavy elements (for example, tantalum) are effective. In any case, these screens can be relatively heavy, which reduces the spacecraft's payload. NASA plans to reduce the mass of the shields through sheet folding techniques. It is supposed to use such screens to protect the mission on the surface of distant space bodies.
Origami Space Equipment Project, photo by Mark Bolitho
This isn't the first time engineers have turned to origami for ideas. In January 2017, experts from the Goddard Space Flight Center and Brigham Young University introduced a foldable radiator to store and remove heat from small satellites. The depth of its folds automatically changes depending on the temperature.
Previously, it was proposed to use the substance of asteroids to protect against cosmic radiation.