After four decades of human exploration in space, many scientists consider the medical consequences from radiation exposures to be the major biological risk associated with long-term missions. This conclusion is based upon results from a research program that has evolved over the past thirty years. Despite the diversity in both opinions and approaches that necessarily arise in research endeavors such as this, a commonality has emerged from our community. We need epidemiological data for humans, animal data in areas where no human data exist, and data on mechanisms to get from animal to humans. We need a programmatic infrastructure that addresses specific goals as well as basic research. These concepts might be deemed overly simplistic and even tautologous were it not for the fact that they are frequently underutilized and even ignored. This article examines the goals, premises, and infrastructures proposed by expert panels and agencies to address radiation risks in space. It is proposed that the required level of effort and the resources available demand a unified, focused international effort that is, at the same time, subjected to rigorous peer review if it is to be successful. There is a plan; let us implement it.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
- Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis