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Keywords:

  • radiation cancer risk;
  • space radiation

[1] We review NASA's short-term and career radiation limits for astronauts and methods for their application to future exploration missions outside of low Earth orbit. Career limits are intended to restrict late occurring health effects and include a 3% risk of exposure-induced death from cancer and new limits for central nervous system and heart disease risks. Short-term dose limits are used to prevent in-flight radiation sickness or death through restriction of the doses to the blood forming organs and to prevent clinically significant cataracts or skin damage through lens and skin dose limits, respectively. Large uncertainties exist in estimating the health risks of space radiation, chiefly the understanding of the radiobiology of heavy ions and dose rate and dose protraction effects, and the limitations in human epidemiology data. To protect against these uncertainties NASA estimates the 95% confidence in the cancer risk projection intervals as part of astronaut flight readiness assessments and mission design. Accurate organ dose and particle spectra models are needed to ensure astronauts stay below radiation limits and to support the goal of narrowing the uncertainties in risk projections. Methodologies for evaluation of space environments, radiation quality, and organ doses to evaluate limits are discussed, and current projections for lunar and Mars missions are described.