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NASA Space Radiation Lab

NSRL helps to assess health risks of cosmic radiation. To better understand these risks, NASA has teamed with the U.S. Dept. of Energy to establish this lab.

Active Mission

Beyond Low Earth Orbit, space radiation may place astronauts at significant risk for radiation sickness, and increased lifetime risk for cancer, central nervous system effects, and degenerative diseases.

Mission Type

Human Spaceflight


Brookhaven National Laboratory

Mission Overview

Location: Upton, New York

Environment: Laboratory

Hazards Tested: Space radiation

Description: The NSRL helps to assess many of the health risks associated with cosmic radiation. Before humans can travel for extended periods outside Earth’s atmosphere, scientists must learn more about the risks posed by cosmic radiation. To better understand these risks, NASA has teamed with the U.S. Department of Energy to establish this lab at Brookhaven National Laboratory. 

Research: Scientists use beams of ions to simulate cosmic rays and assess the risks of space radiation to human space travelers and equipment.

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Video Series: What Is Space Radiation?

Our space radiation miniseries discusses what causes space radiation, how space radiation affects the human body, how NASA protects astronauts, and more

Watch Here about Video Series: What Is Space Radiation?
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.

NSRL Facilities

Brookhaven National Laboratory in Upton, New York has a Heavy Ion Collider. NASA utilizes this facility to test the effects of space radiation on astronauts at the NASA Space Radiation Lab (NSRL). For more information on how the Brookhaven National Lab Heavy Ion Collider works go to

What's the Risk?

Why Space Radiation Matters

What is Radiation?

Outside the protective cocoon of the Earth’s atmosphere is a universe full of radiation – it is all around us. Say the word "radiation" to three different people, and you'll probably get three different reactions. Your aunt may tell you how radiation destroyed her cancer. Your neighbor might mention the "duck and cover" procedures of his day. And your comics-loving friend will explain how gamma rays turned Bruce Banner into The Hulk. Radiation comes in many forms and is all around us, all the time. But what is radiation?

Learn More about Why Space Radiation Matters
EMS-Introduction diagram
The Electromagnetic Spectrum (

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