Limitations in predicting the space radiation health risk for exploration astronauts

Jeffery C. Chancellor, Rebecca S. Blue, Keith A. Cengel, Serena M. Auñón-Chancellor, Kathleen H. Rubins, Helmut G. Katzgraber, Ann R. Kennedy

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

118 Scopus citations


Despite years of research, understanding of the space radiation environment and the risk it poses to long-duration astronauts remains limited. There is a disparity between research results and observed empirical effects seen in human astronaut crews, likely due to the numerous factors that limit terrestrial simulation of the complex space environment and extrapolation of human clinical consequences from varied animal models. Given the intended future of human spaceflight, with efforts now to rapidly expand capabilities for human missions to the moon and Mars, there is a pressing need to improve upon the understanding of the space radiation risk, predict likely clinical outcomes of interplanetary radiation exposure, and develop appropriate and effective mitigation strategies for future missions. To achieve this goal, the space radiation and aerospace community must recognize the historical limitations of radiation research and how such limitations could be addressed in future research endeavors. We have sought to highlight the numerous factors that limit understanding of the risk of space radiation for human crews and to identify ways in which these limitations could be addressed for improved understanding and appropriate risk posture regarding future human spaceflight.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8
Journalnpj Microgravity
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Materials Science (miscellaneous)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology (miscellaneous)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)
  • Space and Planetary Science


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