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NASA has launched an exploration design challenge asking K-12 students around the world to help protect astronauts and spacecraft hardware from the high levels of space radiation they will experience beyond Earth's protective magnetosphere, the agency announced today (March 11).
"America's next step in human space exploration is an ambitious one and will require new technologies, including ways to keep our astronauts safe from the effects of deep-space radiation," NASA chief Charles Bolden said in a statement. "That is the focus of this challenge, and we are excited students will be helping us solve that problem."
Kids in elementary and middle school will recommend materials that could be used as astronaut-protecting shielding on NASA's Orion deep space capsule, which is currently in development. High schoolers will be tasked with actually designing shielding that protects an Orion sensor from space radiation; the winning design will ride to space on an Orion test flight in 2014, officials said.
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