Space radiation poses great health risks to astronauts on lengthy International Space Station and future exploration missions. A major activity of the Radiation Biophysics Laboratory is the analysis of cellular and molecular damages in astronauts due to space radiation exposure after long-duration space flight missions.
An active operational biodosimetry program effectively monitors astronaut exposure amounts pre- and post-flight, using state-of-the-art cytogenetic biomarkers detection techniques. This ensures critical health assessment of astronaut radiation exposure records and ensuing success of overall astronaut health and safety. Current research in biodosimetry seeks to identify and develop novel techniques and bioassays for measuring radiation exposure with greater sensitivity.
Additional ground-based research aims to answer questions on the biological effects of energetic ions and specifically to address critical questions that are ranked as a top priority in NASA's Bioastronautics Roadmap. The energetic ions that mimic the space environment are generated at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory located at the Brookhaven National Laboratory. Extensive experiments are being conducted by the Radiation Biophysics Laboratory personnel to study heavy ion-induced chromosomal damages and gene mutations using in-vitro cellular and tissue equivalent models. Multiple genomic and proteomic analysis employing high-tech resources available at Johnson Space Center also are undertaken to address these issues.