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Space Radiation Element

The Space Radiation Element (SRE) seeks to characterize human health outcomes associated with space radiation exposure, helping NASA to build strategies that protect astronaut health and ensure safe human spaceflight.

The aurora australis above the southern Indian Ocean

What Is Space Radiation?

A series of videos explains more.

Space Radiation is Risky Business for the Human Body
Space radiation is made up of protons and all the elements on the periodic table. It enters the human body at energies approaching the speed of light and can damage DNA.
Credit: NASA

NASA Protects Its Superheroes From Space Weather


It’s not a bird or a plane but it might be a solar storm!

We like to think of astronauts as our super heroes, but the reality is astronauts are not built like Superman who gains strength from the Sun. In fact, much of the energy radiating from the Sun is harmful to us mere mortals.

Outside Earth’s protective magnetic field and atmosphere, the ionizing radiation in space will pose a serious risk to astronauts as they travel to Mars. High-energy galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), which are remnants from supernovas, and solar storms like solar particle events (SPEs) and coronal mass ejections (CMEs) can cause harm to the body and spacecraft. These are all components of space weather.

When astronauts travel in space they can’t see or even feel radiation. However, NASA scientists are studying the effects radiation plays on the human body and developing ways to monitor and protect against this silent hazard. Learn how astronauts will endure space weather beyond low Earth orbit here.

Positive, Negative, or Neutral, It All Matters: NASA Explains Space Radiation


Charged particles may be small, but they matter to astronauts. NASA scientists are investigating these particles to solve one of its biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars: space radiation and its effects on the human body.

Space Radiation is Risky Business for the Human Body

While people protect their eyes from the sun’s radiation during a solar eclipse, NASA’s space radiation experts are working to protect the whole human body from radiation in space. Space radiation is dangerous and one of the primary health risks for astronauts.

Cloudy with a Chance of Radiation: NASA Studies Simulated Radiation (Videos 1 and 2)

Credit: NASA
In each life a little rain must fall, but in space, one of the biggest risks to astronauts’ health is radiation “rain”. NASA scientists are simulating space radiation on Earth following upgrades to the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory. These upgrades help researchers on Earth learn more about the effects of ionizing space radiation, to help keep astronauts safe on a journey to Mars.

Space Radiation Won’t Stop NASA’s Human Exploration

While it’s true that space radiation is one of the biggest challenges for a human journey to Mars, it’s also true that NASA is developing technologies and countermeasures to ensure a safe and successful journey to the red planet. In this video, some of NASA’s top space radiation experts discuss how we are keeping astronauts safe from radiation in space.


NASA’s Human Research Program, or HRP, pursues the best methods and technologies to support safe, productive human space travel. Through science conducted in laboratories, ground-based analogs, and the International Space Station, HRP scrutinizes how spaceflight affects human bodies and behaviors. Such research drives HRP’s quest to innovate ways that keep astronauts healthy and mission-ready as space travel expands to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.