NASA announces space radiation research grants

July 16, 2003

NASA has selected 28 researchers to conduct ground-based research in space radiation biology and space radiation shielding materials.

Sponsored by NASA's Office of Biological and Physical Research (OBPR), this research will use the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (SRL) and the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron at the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, N.Y. The SRL is a new $34 million irradiation facility scheduled to start delivering beams for experiments in Fall/Winter of 2003.

Dr. Raj Kaul, a materials scientist in the Engineering Directorate at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., received his second grant to investigate the radiation shielding effectiveness as well as the viability of novel composites as structural materials. In addition to Kaul, grants managed by NASA's Microgravity Science and Applications Department at the Marshall Center were awarded to four other researchers. As part of a new research initiative, NASA researchers are studying the effectiveness of existing materials and developing new, multifunctional spacecraft materials with high radiation shielding capabilities.

NASA received 67 proposals in August 2002 in response to this research announcement. All proposals were peer-reviewed by scientific and technical experts from academia, government, and industry. The grants total approximately $28 million and average $1 million each over a four-year period.

"This research is the first step in implementing NASA's Space Radiation Initiative approved by Congress in FY 2003," said Guy Fogleman, director of OBPR's Bioastronautics Research Division, Washington. "The results are essential for reducing the crew health risks from space radiation allowing them to remain safe and healthy during and after longer duration missions," he said. Fogleman added knowledge gained from this initiative would expand and improve NASA's understanding of radiation health effects with obvious benefits on Earth.

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