Operational radiation protection for astronauts and cosmonauts and correlated activities of ESA Medical Operations
Straube, Ulrich, et al. (2010). "Operational radiation protection for astronauts and cosmonauts and correlated activities of ESA Medical Operations." Acta Astronautica 66 7–8: 963-973
Since the early times of human spaceflight radiation has been, besides the influence of microgravity on the human body, recognized as a main health concern to astronauts and cosmonauts. The radiation environment that the crew experiences during spaceflight differs significantly to that found on earth due to particles of greater potential for biological damage. Highly energetic charged particles, such as protons, helium nuclei (“alpha particles”) and heavier ions up to iron, originating from several sources, as well as protons and electrons trapped in the Earth's radiation belts, are the main contributors. The exposure that the crew receives during a spaceflight significantly exceeds exposures routinely received by terrestrial radiation workers. The European Space Agency's (ESA) Astronaut Center (EAC) in Cologne, Germany, is home of the European Astronaut Corps. Part of the EAC is the Crew Medical Support Office (CMSO or HSF-AM) responsible for ensuring the health and well-being of the European Astronauts. A sequence of activities is conducted to protect astronauts and cosmonauts health, including those aiming to mitigate adverse effects of space radiation. All health related activities are part of a multinational Medical Operations (MedOps) concept, which is executed by the different Space Agencies participating in the human spaceflight program of the International Space Station (ISS). This article will give an introduction to the current measures used for radiation monitoring and protection of astronauts and cosmonauts. The operational guidelines that shall ensure proper implementation and execution of those radiation protection measures will be addressed. Operational hardware for passive and active radiation monitoring and for personal dosimetry, as well as the operational procedures that are applied, are described.