Now comes word they're accepting ideas on designing a radiation shield for potential deep-space flights. More specifically, "a 3D folding concept for radiation shielding used to cover human habitation sections of spacecraft."
The new project is just one of three challenges currently active on a site that NASA is running with Freelancer.com to crowdsource solutions for various needs. Previous challenges range from building 3D models of various tools like a drill or manilla envelope to developing a smartwatch app astronauts can use during missions.
In this case, NASA is hoping to get some good ideas to help protect humans from harmful radiation they'll be exposed to as they traverse space. It's something NASA has been working on for a long time, actually.
In fact, it's a big issue for NASA's upcoming (we hope) Mars missions. While Earth's magnetic field helps protect us from such radiation, Mars doesn't have such a field. Those travelers need protection not only in transit, but also when they reach Mars.
This project in particular is focusing on the transit part, seeking origami-like designs to shield spacecraft.
Matt Barrie, founder and CEO of Freelancer, told The Guardian why the designs should be collapsable: “NASA wants something that is sufficiently packed and compact so that when you actually land on a planet you can expand it and it will provide maximum efficiency and protection from radiation."