To baldly go... Hair loss would be just one of the unfortunate side-effects suffered by space travellers exposed to extreme solar radiation
SO, AFTER DECADES of careful budgeting, you finally bought your very own interstellar camper van. You are a month into your trip to Mars – to boldly camp on the plains of Amazonis Planitia (with stunning views of Olympus Mons) when disaster strikes. Billions of tonnes of radiation, spewed into space by a colossal solar storm, is bearing down on you. With no time to move out of its path, the best you can do is lower your sun visors and hope for the best.
As billions of super-charged particles blast through your body, shattering DNA and obliterating your bone marrow, you have time to regret buying the embroidered seat covers instead of that radiation shield option. Your irradiated, blister-covered corpse is found months later by an itinerant asteroid miner. You are quite dead.
If only you had equipped your vehicle with Dr Ruth Bamford’s mini-magnetosphere, plasma radiation shield (patent pending). Designed at Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Oxford, in the early decades of the 21st century, Dr Bamford’s radiation shield (patent pending) recreates the magnetic bubble that protects Earth from the worst of the Sun’s high-energy hissy fits.