Center of Acute Radiation Research


NSBRI's Center of Acute Radiation Research (CARR) is tasked with studying the acute effects of space radiation. The impact of the effects to the body can occur immediately. The $10-million, five-year grant was awarded to the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine in 2008.

When astronauts travel in space, especially beyond low-Earth orbit, they will be at risk of exposure to bursts of radiation called solar particle events (SPEs). This exposure can lead to health problems called acute radiation sickness (ARS). Symptoms of ARS include nausea, vomiting and fatigue, followed by potential damage to skin and changes in white blood cell counts and the immune system. The radiation dose an astronaut could receive will vary depending on whether or not the exposure occurs inside or outside a spacecraft.

The CARR Director, Dr. Ann Kennedy, is leading a group of researchers working on projects to assess the immediate effects of radiation exposure from SPEs, better define the risks, and develop and evaluate methods to protect astronauts. While headquartered at Penn, the team also includes researchers from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, the Armed Forces Radiobiology Research Institute, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

CARR Project Page