Last Published:  11/23/20 11:55:10 AM (Central)
Responsible Element: Human Health Countermeasures (HHC)
Status: Open
Present state of knowledge: The health risk involved with increased exposure to cosmic radiation has been studied in crew members for over 35 years with human health and cancer risk being the main focus. However, space radiation could also affect both the resident microorganisms aboard the ISS and the normal, healthy astronaut microbiomes (e.g. gut, nasal, skin, etc.) that are of direct concern for crew health. Research of environments other than spaceflight have reported on the significant effect radiation has on DNA damage and repair in both bacteria and host cells. Many of these studies have presented data on the bactericidal affects that radiation exposure has on specific microorganisms, albeit at extremely high doses. The effect of radiation doses expected on future deep space exploration missions on the astronaut microbiome and the environmental microbiome of the spacecraft environment is not well studied and requires further investigation.

Research approach: Evaluation of the combined effects of deep-space radiation and weightlessness/isolation/confinement in comparison to data collected from LEO or ground analogs, as well as using ground-based irradiated models. A portion of this work (microbiome of the built environment, for example) is under the purview of NASA’s Space Biology (SB) program, and data will be shared between SB and HRP to form a comprehensive understanding of this gap. HRP will fund studies via solicited and directed mechanisms, including data mining and large-data modeling using all previously collected data in HRP/SB/CASIS/operational databases, studies conducted on astronauts flying in deep-space (i.e. Gateway and Lunar missions), and ground-based deep-space radiation analogs. HHC will collaborate with HRP’s Space Radiation Element.
Target for Closure

Understand the contribution of deep-space radiation to changes in the microbial profile of spaceflight.

Risk Risk of Adverse Health Effects Due to Host-Microorganism Interactions
You are here! Gap Micro-102: Evaluate whether deep-space radiation has an additive or synergistic effect with weightlessness/isolation/confinement on microbial types, numbers, and virulence.

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