Iron ions, frequently used as the HZE particles, as well as other heavy ions, produce relatively large amounts of DNA damage, as their track width is considerably greater than that produced by x- and gamma radiations.
A major question in space radiation research concerns how the expected biological effects of space radiations can be minimized. Theoretically, it would seem possible to eliminate the effects of heavy ions through shielding methods. Shielding for heavy ion exposure, however, is extremely difficult as it is complicated by nuclear fragmentation, in which the secondary fragments produced from heavy ion interactions can be equally or more hazardous to biologic tissues than the original heavy ion.
NASA. (2000). DNA damage. Retrieved 06-15-2008 from http://www.nasa.gov/audience/foreducators/postsecondary/features/F_Space_Radiation_Project.html
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This work was supported by National Space Biomedical Research Institute through NASA cooperative agreement NCC 9-58.