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Life 2014, 4(3), 491-510; doi:10.3390/life4030491

Space Radiation: The Number One Risk to Astronaut Health beyond Low Earth Orbit

1
National Space Biomedical Research Institute (NSBRI), and Center for Space Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 6500 Main Street, Suite 910, Houston, TX 77030-1402, USA
2
Department of Materials Science and Engineering, Dwight Look College of Engineering, Texas A&M University, 3003 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-3003, USA
3
Department of Molecular and Cellular Biology, Baylor College of Medicine, 6500 Main Street, Suite 910, Houston, TX 77030-1402, USA
4
Department of Medicine, Baylor College of Medicine, 6500 Main Street, Suite 910, Houston, TX 77030-1402, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 10 June 2014 / Revised: 6 August 2014 / Accepted: 21 August 2014 / Published: 11 September 2014
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Response of Terrestrial Life to Space Conditions)
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Abstract

Projecting a vision for space radiobiological research necessitates understanding the nature of the space radiation environment and how radiation risks influence mission planning, timelines and operational decisions. Exposure to space radiation increases the risks of astronauts developing cancer, experiencing central nervous system (CNS) decrements, exhibiting degenerative tissue effects or developing acute radiation syndrome. One or more of these deleterious health effects could develop during future multi-year space exploration missions beyond low Earth orbit (LEO). Shielding is an effective countermeasure against solar particle events (SPEs), but is ineffective in protecting crew members from the biological impacts of fast moving, highly-charged galactic cosmic radiation (GCR) nuclei. Astronauts traveling on a protracted voyage to Mars may be exposed to SPE radiation events, overlaid on a more predictable flux of GCR. Therefore, ground-based research studies employing model organisms seeking to accurately mimic the biological effects of the space radiation environment must concatenate exposures to both proton and heavy ion sources. New techniques in genomics, proteomics, metabolomics and other “omics” areas should also be intelligently employed and correlated with phenotypic observations. This approach will more precisely elucidate the effects of space radiation on human physiology and aid in developing personalized radiological countermeasures for astronauts. View Full-Text
Keywords: space; radiation; radiobiology; omics; cancer; degenerative tissue effects; central nervous system effects; acute radiation syndrome; galactic cosmic radiation; solar particle events space; radiation; radiobiology; omics; cancer; degenerative tissue effects; central nervous system effects; acute radiation syndrome; galactic cosmic radiation; solar particle events
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chancellor, J.C.; Scott, G.B.I.; Sutton, J.P. Space Radiation: The Number One Risk to Astronaut Health beyond Low Earth Orbit. Life 2014, 4, 491-510.

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