Incremental progress has been made on several fronts that may employ nanomedical strategies, to potentially counteract the deleterious effects of galactic cosmic rays and microgravity on human physiology.
The implementation of these strategies and the enhancement of their preventative, diagnostic, or therapeutic effects for future orbital, planetary, and deep space missions might be enabled via diverse and potent synergies between unique nanomedical applications of nanomaterials and nanotechnologies.
Galactic cosmic ray radiation consists mainly of high-energy protons and atomic nuclei, and contains about 1% free electrons. Since its discovery in 1912 by Victor Hess, there have been concerns that ionizing cosmic ray (HZE) nuclei may have negative effects on critical human physiological elements such as DNA, retina, neurons, and neurotransmitters. High energy HZE nuclei can inflict serious “microlesion” damage to cells along their impact trajectories as they transit through a column of cells. One estimate for the microlesion dose rate in a geostationary orbit for example, is approximately 9000 microlesions per cm3 of biological tissue per month.