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Would This Be Deadly Radiation?

  1. Jul 9, 2011 #1
    Hello; Quick question for anyone who knows a bit about radiation...

    So, Io puts out a lot of gas which turns into plasma and forms a torus around Jupiter. Jupiter's magnetic field and spinning causes the plasma to move along the torus at 74 km/s.

    Would individual particles like this, traveling at 74 km/s in extreme trace amounts, act as a type of radiation that would necessitate radiation shielding for a manned spacecraft within the torus?

    The particles in this case would be ionized sulfur, oxygen, sodium, and chlorine.
    For the purposes of a book I'm writing, I'm curious if the effects would be different for any other elements, such as nitrogen, hydrogen, and helium...

    This is in general physics, because although the circumstances are astronautical, the question itself has more to do with radiation than astrophysics.

  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 9, 2011 #2


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    I don't know about radiation, but even a small rock traveling at 74 km/s will take care of all your worries.
  4. Jul 11, 2011 #3
    Just take the particle travelling at 74km/s and find its energy in MeV. It would also depend on the particle flux as to the damage inflicted on living tissue. A low flux area of high MeV alpha particles (i.e., high enough so that it can penetrate the dead skin cell layers) can do as much damage as a high flux area of lower energy beta particles.
  5. Jul 11, 2011 #4


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    Wow. Even at 400,000km radius, those particles would complete a circuit (not really an orbit) in 15 hours.
  6. Jul 11, 2011 #5


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    74 km/s for protons is only 30 eV. Not energetic enough to penetrate skin.
  7. Jul 12, 2011 #6
    Alright, Thank you! A solid, direct answer to my question :smile:

    Even larger particles such as entire atoms probably won't be able to penetrate the exterior of the vehicle, never mind the exterior of the vehicle and then the crew's skin.

    I think it's safe to assume that anything that can stop micrometeorites would be plenty of protection.

    Good observation. That's the rotation period of Jupiter, the particles are pushed along by Jupiter's magnetic fields; as such, they match Jupiter's rotation rate. Much like a MPD engine, a railgun, or a coilgun.

    That would be great advice... If I knew how to find a particle's energy in MeV, never mind finding the flux area...
  8. Jul 12, 2011 #7
    In the classical sense (since 74km/s isn't relativistic), E = 1/2 mv2, then convert J to eV.
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