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NASA To Study, Deter Dangers Of Radiation To Space Crews

By | September 18, 2006

      NASA is poised to provide $14 million to research programs to study the risks of space radiation to crews such as those who will voyage to the moon, Mars and beyond, the space agency announced.

      The programs also will aim to discover means of reducing radiation risks.

      Serious health hazards otherwise might lurk in the vast void of space.

      Health risks of radiation during space travel may include cancer, degenerative tissue damage — including damage to the central nervous system — and acute radiation sickness.

      The new research may help in the development of effective shielding or biological countermeasures for radiation exposure.

      The research is part of the NASA Space Radiation Program.

      Its goal is to ensure that astronauts can live and work safely in the space radiation environment, anywhere, anytime.

      Space radiation is different from forms of radiation encountered on Earth. Radiation in space consists of high-energy protons, heavy ions and secondary byproducts created when the protons and heavy ions pass through spacecraft shielding and human tissue.

      Since data available on human exposure to these radiation types are limited, risks of exposure are derived from an understanding based on radiation physics and radiation biology.

      The more research data collected, the more confident NASA can be that astronauts will be protected.

      Twelve new research areas were selected by the Space Radiation Program from 82 proposals received in response to a NASA research announcement.

      All of the proposals were peer-reviewed by scientific and technical experts from academia, government, and industry. NASA is selecting universities, hospitals and laboratories to perform these studies.

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