Encyclopedia of Bioastronautics

Living Edition
| Editors: Laurence R. Young, Jeffrey P. Sutton

Space Radiation Environment

  • Lawrence W. TownsendEmail author
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-319-10152-1_97-1


The space radiation environment is a complex mixture of electrons, photons, and all naturally occurring atomic species. The composition of the radiation field at any point within the solar system is variable and depends upon solar activity, as well as local conditions, such as the presence of planetary magnetic fields and atmospheres. The main sources of the particles in these radiation fields include (1) galactic cosmic ray (GCR) particles entering the solar system from interstellar space, (2) charged particles emitted by the sun, and (3) particles trapped within planetary magnetic fields.


The sun has the major influence on the space radiation environment within the solar system. The sun continuously emits an omnidirectional stream of charged particles called the solar wind. The solar wind emanating from the hot solar corona is a plasma. It consists mainly of electrons and protons, moving away from the sun at velocities of several hundreds of kilometers per second...
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Further Reading

  1. Miroshnichenko L (2003) Radiation hazards in space. Kluwer, DordrechtCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Townsend L, Wilson J (1996) The interplanetary radiation environment and methods to shield from it. In: Stoker C, Emmert C (eds) Strategies for Mars: a guide to human exploration, AAS science and technology series, vol 86. Univelt, San Diego, pp 283–326. Chapter 16Google Scholar
  3. Tribble R (2003) The space radiation environment: implications for spacecraft design. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Nuclear EngineeringThe University of TennesseeKnoxvilleUSA

Section editors and affiliations

  • Kathryn D. Held
    • 1
  1. 1.Radiation OncologyMassachusetts General Hospital/Harvard Medical SchoolBostonUSA