Space Radiation Effects on the Central Nervous System (Alteino) - 10.21.14

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The following content was provided by Marco Casolino, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Information provided courtesy of the Erasmus Experiment Archive.

Experiment Details


Principal Investigator(s)

  • Marco Casolino, Ph.D., Universita of Roma Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy

  • Co-Investigator(s)/Collaborator(s)
  • Piergiorgio Picozza, Ph.D., University of Roma Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy
  • Livio Narici, Ph.D., University of Roma Tor Vergata and INFN-Roma2, Rome, Italy

  • Developer(s)
    Istituto Nazionale di Fisica Nucleare (INFN), Rome, , Italy

    Sponsoring Space Agency
    European Space Agency (ESA)

    Sponsoring Organization
    Information Pending

    Research Benefits
    Information Pending

    ISS Expedition Duration
    December 2001 - June 2002

    Expeditions Assigned

    Previous ISS Missions
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    Experiment Description

    Research Overview
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    This experiment is aimed at: studying cosmic particles in the International Space Station (ISS) as revealed by an Advanced Silicon Telescope (AST) and studying the effects that such particles, and more in general the space environmental conditions, have on cerebral functions as monitored by an advanced electrophysiological recording system [ElectroEncephaloGrapher (EEG)]. In particular the study of Light Flashes (the visual phenomena originated by the interaction of cosmic radiation with the human visual apparatus) will be carried out. The scientific objectives of the program feature therefore two major aspects: radiobiological / Particle physics studies and electrophysiological studies. Alteino is the precursor of ALTEA , which will determine the risk factors linked to cerebral functions during long space missions.

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    Space Applications
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    Earth Applications
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    Operational Requirements
    Information Pending

    Operational Protocols
    For the first part of the experiment, the cosmic particle detector (AST) is switched on for the whole duration of the mission to measure angle, charge and energy properties of heavy ions (nuclei) in cosmic radiation. The AST is composed of two scintillators and a series of 8 silicon strip detector planes. The two scintillators are located on top and bottom of the device and are used in coincidence to trigger the acquisition when the device is crossed by a cosmic ray. Each silicon detector plane is divided in 32 strips with a pitch of 0.25 mm to detect nature, energy, and angle of incidence of incoming particles. There are 4 planes with strips oriented in the X direction and 4 planes oriented in the Y direction to provide a stereoscopic view of the track. The acquisition system consists of a PC-104 based 486 CPU with a PCMCIA interface for data storage and download, coupled with an Analogue Devices DSP for the acquisition of the silicon planes. The second part of the experiment consists of the following operations: EEG monitoring of spontaneous or environment-induced changes in the brain functional state (e.g. level of vigilance), both in relation to and independent of the wakefulness/sleep pattern; EEG recording of changes in the brain functional state (e.g. level of vigilance) occurring in concomitance of the observation of phosphenes; identification of EEG functional patterns possibly related to phosphenes; EEG recording of the brain electrophysiological responses to the impact of particles, regardless of reports of subjective phosphenes will be executed. This part of the experiment consists of six Light Flash observations with real time EEG monitoring performed for a total astronaut time of 18 hours and 45 minutes (with an additional 3 hours and 30 minutes of assistance by the station commander). These sessions are selected in order to cover most of the area swept by the ISS to show latitudinal and longitudinal effects related to particle flux and nature.

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    Results/More Information

    Official results have not yet been published. The PI speculates that they will aid in obtaining the data on the radiation safety of cosmonauts during long-duration and long-range missions, as well as the dynamics of their central nervous system functional state and changes in the level of their capacity as operators under these conditions. They will also determine the level of radiation protection in working compartments of ISS RS more precisely.

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    Results Publications

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    Ground Based Results Publications

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    ISS Patents

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    Related Publications

      Casolino M.  Observations of the Light Flash phenomenon in space. Advances in Space Research. 2006; 38(6): 1177-1181. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2005.04.110.

      van Loon JJ, van Loon JJ, Medina F, Medina F, Stenuit H, Istasse E, Istasse E, Heppener M, Marco R.  The National - ESA Soyuz Missions Andromede, Marco Polo, Odissea, Cervantes, Delta and Eneide. Microgravity Science and Technology. 2007 September; 19(5-6): 9-32. DOI: 10.1007/BF02919448.

      Casolino M, Bidoli V, Minori M, Narici L, De Pascale MP, Picozza P, Reali E, Zaconte V, Fuglesang C, Vittori R, Sannita WG, Carlson P, Galper A, Korotkov MP, Kolmykov A, Popov A, Vavilov N, Avdeev S, Benghin VV, Petrov VP, Salnitskii VP, Shevchenko OI, Shurshakov VA, Trukhanov KA, Boezio M, Bonvicini W, Vacchi A, Zampa N, Zampa G, Mazzenga G, Ricci M, Spillantini P, Rantucci E, Scrimaglio R, Segreto E.  Detector response and calibration of the cosmic-ray detector of the Sileye-3/Alteino experiment. Advances in Space Research. 2006; 37(9): 1691-1696. DOI: 10.1016/j.asr.2005.03.136.

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    Related Websites
    ESA Erasmus Experiment Archive
    Sileye/Alteino official site

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    image The Alteino apparatus. Image courtesy of ESA.
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    image AST setup in the PIRS module. Image courtesy of ESA.
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