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Health Phys. 2012 Nov;103(5):621-39. doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e318266732f.

Description of transport codes for space radiation shielding.

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  • 1Division of Space Life Sciences, Universities Space Research Association, Houston, TX 77058, USA.


Exposure to ionizing radiation in the space environment is one of the hazards faced by crews in space missions. As space radiations traverse spacecraft, habitat shielding, or tissues, their energies and compositions are altered by interactions with the shielding. Modifications to the radiation fields arise from atomic interactions of charged particles with orbital electrons and nuclear interactions leading to projectile and target fragmentation, including secondary particles such as neutrons, protons, mesons, and nuclear recoils. The transport of space radiation through shielding can be simulated using Monte Carlo techniques or deterministic solutions of the Boltzmann equation. To determine shielding requirements and to resolve radiation constraints for future human missions, the shielding evaluation of a spacecraft concept is required as an early step in the design process. To do this requires (1) accurate knowledge of space environmental models to define the boundary condition for transport calculations, (2) transport codes with detailed shielding and body geometry models to determine particle transmission into areas of internal shielding and at each critical body organ, and (3) the assessment of organ dosimetric quantities and biological risks by applying the corresponding response models for space radiation against the particle spectra that have been accurately determined from the transport code. This paper reviews current transport codes and analyzes their accuracy through comparison to laboratory and spaceflight data. This paper also introduces a probabilistic risk assessment approach for the evaluation of radiation shielding.

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