Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

Living Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James Cleaves, Daniele Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Michel Viso

Space Biology

  • Ruth Hemmersbach
Living reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-642-27833-4_1468-3



The space environment is characterized by an intense radiation field of solar and galactic origin and by high vacuum, extreme temperatures, and – induced by orbital space flight – reduced gravity (microgravity) conditions. Thus, the interdisciplinary field of space biology includes all basic disciplines in Life Sciences by investigating the impact of space environmental factors on all organizational levels (from subcellular to organismal) of living matter.


The beginnings of the discipline “space biology” may be set with the start of orbital flights that means ballistic flights (1948–1957) and early orbital missions (1957–1961) with animals, followed in 1961 by human flights. This opened a new experimental field by enabling the investigation of the influence of the space environment (mainly microgravity and radiation) on living systems.

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Aerospace MedicineGerman Aerospace Center (DLR)CologneGermany