The ALTEA (Anomalous Long Term Effects on Astronauts) detector was used to characterize the radiation environment inside the USLab of the International Space Station (ISS), where it measured the abundances of ions from Be to Fe. We compare the ALTEA results with Alteino results obtained in the PIRS module of the Russian segment of the ISS, and normalize to the high energy Si abundances given by Simpson. These are the first particle spectral measurements, which include ions up to Fe, performed in the USLab. The small differences observed between those made inside the USLab and the Simpson abundances can be attributed to the transport through the spacecraft hull. However, the low abundance of Fe cannot be attributed to only this process.
Research Containing: Light flashes
The ALTEA program is an international and multi-disciplinary project aimed at studying particle radiation in space environment and its effects on astronauts’ brain functions, as the anomalous perception of light flashes first reported during Apollo missions. The ALTEA space facility includes a 6-silicon telescopes particle detector, and is onboard the International Space Station (ISS) since July 2006. In this paper, the detector calibration at the heavy-ion synchrotron SIS18 at GSI Darmstadt will be presented and compared to the Geant 3 Monte Carlo simulation. Finally, the results of a neural network analysis that was used for ion discrimination on fragmentation data will also be presented.
Heavy ions light flashes and brain functions: recent observations at accelerators and in spaceflight
Interactions between ionizing radiation in space and brain functions, and the related risk assessments, are among the major concerns when programming long permanence in space, especially when outside the protective shield of the Earth's magnetosphere. The light flashes (LF) observed by astronauts in space, mostly when dark adapted, are an example of these interactions; investigations in space and on the ground showed that these effects can originate with the action of ionizing radiation in the eye. Recent findings from ALTEA, an interdisciplinary and multiapproach program devoted to the study of different aspects of the radiation–brain functions interaction, are presented in this paper. These include: (i) study of radiation passing through the astronauts' eyes in the International Space Station (≈20 ions min −1 , excluding H and fast and very slow He), measured in conjunction with reporting of the perception of LF; (ii) preliminary electrophysiological evidence of these events in astronauts and in patients during heavy ion therapy; and (iii) in vitro results showing the radiation driven activation of rhodopsin at the start of the phototransduction cascade in the process of vision. These results are in agreement with our previous work on mice. A brief but complete summary of the earlier works is also reported to permit a discussion of the results.
The knowledge of the composition of the radiation environment is an important information for all the radiation safety issues needed for the planning of future long manned space missions. The ALTEA detector is on board the International Space Station since July 2006 and during this period it has performed a detailed measurement of the radiation environment. In this paper we present a summary of past measures and results.
The uneven shielding of the International Space Station from the vessel hull, racks and experiments produces a modulation of the internal radiation environment. A detailed knowledge of this environment, and therefore of the Station's shielding effectiveness, is mandatory for an accurate assessment of radiation risk. We present here the first 3D measurements of the Station's radiation environment, discriminating particle trajectories and LET, made possible using the detection capability of the ALTEA-space detector. We provide evidence for a strong (factor approximately 3) anisotropy in the inner integral LET for high-LET particles (LET > 50 keV/microm) showing a minimum along the longitudinal station axis (most shielded) and a maximum normal to it. Integrating over all measured LETs, the anisotropy is strongly reduced, showing that unstopped light ions plus the fragments produced by heavier ions approximately maintain flux/LET isotropy. This suggests that, while changing the quality of radiation, the extra shielding along the station main axis is not producing a benefit in terms of total LET. These features should be taken into account (1) when measuring radiation with detectors that cannot distinguish the direction of the impinging radiation or that are unidirectional, (2) when planning radiation biology experiments on the ISS, and (3) when simulating the space radiation environment for experiments on the ground. A novel analysis technique that fully exploits the ability to retrieve the angular distribution of the radiation is also presented as well as the angular particle flux and LET characteristic of three geomagnetic zones measured during 2009 by the ALTEA-space detector. This technique is applied to the ALTEA-space detector, but a wider applicability to other detectors is suggested.