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NASA hands out $13.5m for radiation studies

19 projects get the green light

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NASA has announced grants totaling $13.5m to fund ground-based research in space radiation biology and space radiation shielding materials.

In all, 19 projects will be allocated time at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (SRL) and the Alternating Gradient Synchrotron at the Department of Energy's Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island. The research proposals were selected from the 70 NASA received when it announced the research project in September last year. All proposals were subject to peer review before selection.

At NASA's SRL, the researchers will conduct experiments in radiation that is the same type and energy as that found in space: the findings will help NASA scientists to make better predictions about the risk to life posed by space radiation, and how better to manage that risk.

The research grants fall broadly into two categories: space radiation shielding, in which there are five projects; and space radiation biology, making up the remainder.

Among the projects selected were North Dakota State University's investigation "Hybrid Composites with Reactive Nano-matrix for Cosmic Radiation Shielding", led by Wei Hong Zhong; Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's "DNA Damage Responses Induced by HZE Particles in Human Cells", headed by David Chen, and University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine's "The Role of Free Radicals in Space Radiation-Induced Malignant Transformation", led by Jeffrey Ware.

The full list of selected projects can be found here.

Guy Fogleman, associate director for human health and performance at NASA said "Protecting humans from the damaging effects of cosmic radiation is one of the most critical problems that NASA must solve." ®

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