The United States is preparing for exploration beyond low-Earth Orbit (LEO). However, the space radiation environment poses significant risks. The radiation hazard is potentially severe but not sufficiently well characterized to determine if long missions outside LEO can be accomplished with acceptable risk [Cucinotta et al., 2001; Schwadron et al., 2010; Cucinotta et al., 2010]. Radiation hazards may be over- or under-stated through incomplete characterization in terms of net quantities such as accumulated dose. Time-dependent characterization often changes acute risk estimates [NCRP, 1989; Cucinotta, 1999; Cucinotta et al., 2000; George et al., 2002]. For example, events with high accumulated doses but sufficiently low dose rates (/h) pose significantly reduced risks. Protons, heavy ions, and neutrons all contribute significantly to the radiation hazard. However, each form of radiation presents different biological effectiveness. As a result, quality factors and radiation-specific weighting factors are needed to assess biological effectiveness of different forms of radiation [e.g., NCRP 116, 1993] (Figure 1). More complete characterization must account for time-dependent radiation effects according to organ type, primary and secondary radiation composition, and acute effects (vomiting, sickness, and, at high exposures, death) versus chronic effects (such as cancer).
American Geophysical Union
Digital Object Identifier (DOI)
Schwadron, N. A., S. Smith, and H. E. Spence (2013), The CRaTER Special Issue of Space Weather: Building the observational foundation to deduce biological effects of space radiation,Space Weather, 11, 47–48, doi:10.1002/swe.20026.
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