Astronauts need long periods of stay, approximately six months to a year, in the International Space Station (ISS) to expand the scope of outboard activities. Some manned space missions are scheduled in the near future, such as the exploration of the Moon and Mars. Radiation represents a significant hazard in all space explorations, particularly outside the protective shield of the Earth's atmosphere and magnetic field. While inside the ISS, the astronauts are in a free-fall condition, whereas on the Moon and Mars, the gravity is 1/6 and 1/3 of the Earth's gravity, respectively. Many aspects of the biological impact of the combination of the lower gravity and space radiation remain unclear.
A new device was developed to study the combined effects of microgravity and radiation (X-ray and heavy-ions) and is therefore expected to significantly contribute to space radiation research.