Fluxes of galactic iron nuclei and associated HZE secondaries, and resulting radiation doses, in the brain of an astronaut
Although galactic iron nuclei constitute only a small percentage of the total flux of radiation in space, they are extremely significant from a biological standpoint, and represent a concern for long-term manned space missions of the future. Dosages resulting from iron nuclei, and the high-charge secondary nuclei subsequently produced in nuclear fragmentation reactions, have been calculated at the centre of a simple model of the human brain, shielded by various thicknesses of aluminium. Three mission scenarios are considered representing different geomagnetic shielding conditions at solar minimum. Without artificial shielding absorbed dose rates outside the magnetosphere, in polar orbit and in the proposed Space Station orbit, are approximately 0.3, 0.1 and 0.03 cGy/year respectively, corresponding to dose equivalent rates of 8.0, 2.5 and 0.8 cSv/year, and decreasing by roughly a factor of two behind 10 g/cm2 of aluminium. In line with new approaches to risk estimation based on particle fluence and track structure, calculations of the number of cell nuclei likely to be struck by these HZE particles are also presented. Behind 10 g/cm2 of aluminium, 3.4%, 1.3% and 0.5% of cell nuclei at the centre of the brain will be traversed at least once by such a particle within three years, for the three mission scenarios respectively.