The Invisible Shield: The Effect of Magnetism on Stratospheric Radiation Levels


Since the early 1960’s we have longed to explore areas beyond this earth. However, when preparing for a space flight the radiation becomes a risk. As we approach the day when people can travel to the first planet (Mars), the hazards that were once negligible become a problem. As spacecrafts are traveling through space the sun is emitting high intensity radiation, ranging from infrared light all the way to the high energy particles such as x-rays and gamma radiation. Currently, we protect scientists and astronauts using lead, is used as it is a very dense material which can block dangerous particle radiation.Having the opportunity to work in the space industry revealed to me that weight is everything in a rocket. For every additional pound added to a rocket the required fuel is 26 extra pounds. So, using lead as a shield adds an enormous amount of weight.
The basis of this project is to determine whether I can block dangerous radiation from a payload, that will enter into the earth’s stratosphere. To accomplish this I will build four strong electro magnets that will use their large magnetic fields to shield the radiation detector. Within the payload I will have radiation sensors ranging from the infrared spectrum of light all the way up to gamma rays. The payload will be taken up by balloon and will be capturing data up to about 100,000 ft. Intermittently, I will pass an electromagnetic field around the radiation sensors, measuring the difference in radiation as the magnetic field is produced.



  • Constructed and programmed a payload that measured light levels in the electromagnetic spectrum
  • The payload also was programmed to measured altitude, temperature, pressure, and orientation of the payload
  • Built an electromagnet that turned on every ten minutes to see if the radiation would be deflected
  • Designed and prototyped many custom circuit boards for the payload
  • Launched a space balloon with my payload and lost it
  • Started over and built another payload learning from my mistakes
  • Launched another balloon to 82,000ft –  this time it succeeded
  • Discovered that space radiation can be blocked using magnetism