GeoPlasma Research proposes to develop innovative coatings on different substrates including those currently used for space vehicles, satellites, missile systems, and avionic enclosures to address the urgent shielding needs against an Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) attack, a threat recognized by The White House and the House Armed Services Committee. EMP is an instantaneous energy field set off by a high altitude nuclear explosion enabled by missile flight or from a satellite. A widespread EMP effect could lead to possible long-term disruption of the nation’s critical communication, transportation, and military infrastructure. NASA and US military in-space assets are also vulnerable to the effects of EMP. The current state of the art to protect against an attack is with massive shielding such as a Faraday Cage, concrete structures, and buried cables. These solutions are cost prohibitive and impractical for space assets and a multitude of terrestrial infrastructures. Specialized coatings will allow effective shielding of space assets and a more localized and cost-effective shielding for sensitive terrestrial hardware. Development of these coatings will be grounded in fundamental physics using an Artificial Intelligence (AI) based deep generative design framework that is capable of evaluating novel materials on various substrates. The primary focus of this proposal is to provide shielding capability optimized using simulation, fabrication, and testing for 1) mitigating deleterious damage to hardware from both, EMP and the harsh space radiation environment, 2) increased bond strength between coating and substrates 3) improved durability for long term space applications as will be demonstrated on NASA’s MISSE platforms, and 4) light weight, low cost and ease of manufacturability. This comprehensive approach augmented by NASA’s on orbit test bed will lead to potential commercial opportunities relevant to NASA, DoD, and civilian infrastructure applications.
The technology will benefit NASA by protecting satellites, space transportation vehicles and large space structures including Orion, Commercial Crew, Landers, and Lunar Gateway. The lightweight EMP resistant architecture, coupled with low cost manufacturing can be a significant shielding advancement for Lunar nuclear reactors. The technology can also be extended to deep space radiation shielding against GCRs and secondary particles. The anticipated NASA market will include all applications related to long-duration human travel beyond LEO.
The proposed coating architecture has considerable interest from commercial entities supplying missiles and defensive kill vehicles. Their immediate need is for lightweight avionics boxes to protect against an EMP threat and the space radiation environment. This technology can also be leveraged into other commercial applications including neutron source containment and accelerator facilities.