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by Patrick L. Barry
Huntsville AL (SPX) Aug 26, 2005
After reading this article, you might never look at trash bags the same way again. We all use plastic trash bags; they're so common that we hardly give them a second thought. So who would have guessed that a lowly trash bag might hold the key to sending humans to Mars?
Most household trash bags are made of a polymer called polyethylene. Variants of that molecule turn out to be excellent at shielding the most dangerous forms of space radiation. Scientists have long known this. The trouble has been trying to build a spaceship out of the flimsy stuff.
But now NASA scientists have invented a groundbreaking, polyethylene-based material called RXF1 that's even stronger and lighter than aluminum.
"This new material is a first in the sense that it combines superior structural properties with superior shielding properties," says Nasser Barghouty, Project Scientist for NASA's Space Radiation Shielding Project at the Marshall Space Flight Center.
To Mars in a plastic spaceship? As daft as it may sound, it could be the safest way to go.
Originally posted by Murcielago
Although I doubt it would be better then a large magnet. (earth has done a good job at shielding us...so why not take pages from its book)
Single-walled carbon nanotubes (SWNT) are tiny cylinders of carbon atoms that have 100 times the strength of steel (and a sixth of its weight) and have been proven to conduct electricity better than copper. The material is self-supporting and transparent and has been shown to have solar cells capabilities which could mean that they would be able to produce electricity. These amazing properties obviously have applications in aerospace and the military and in a variety of other industries
Originally posted by Frosty
Plastics, the future of weapons technology. We may one day see a tank armored in plastic or an airplane with a plastic rather than aluminum exterior. Unlike nanotech, plastics can already be made at an affordable cost, nanotech is decades away from this achievement.