Encyclopedia of Astrobiology

2015 Edition
| Editors: Muriel Gargaud, William M. Irvine, Ricardo Amils, Henderson James (Jim) CleavesII, Daniele L. Pinti, José Cernicharo Quintanilla, Daniel Rouan, Tilman Spohn, Stéphane Tirard, Michel Viso

Radiation Biology

  • Christa Baumstark-KhanEmail author
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-662-44185-5_1332



Radiation biology is an interdisciplinary subject that describes the biological effects of ionizing radiations. It is based on studies in physics, chemistry, biology, and medicine.


The history of radiation biology started shortly after the discovery of X-rays in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, who was awarded the first Nobel Prize in Physics in 1901. Within short time, X-rays were being used not only to take pictures of the internal organs of living people but also to treat a variety of diseases. The discovery of natural radioactivity by Antoine Henri Becquerel in 1896 was the prerequisite for the detection of terrestrial and cosmic radiation. In 1903, Becquerel shared the Nobel Prize in Physics with Pierre and Marie Curie “in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of spontaneous radioactivity.” Interaction of radiation energy with living matter was observed, and the radiation...


DNA damage Radiation chemistry Radiation interactions Radiation risk Radiation sensitivity 
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References and Further Reading

  1. Baumstark-Khan C (1999) Estimation of environmental burdens by radiation. Radiologic units: from Gray to Sievert. In: Junk AK, Kundiev Y, Vitte P, Worgul BV (eds) Ocular radiation risk assessment in populations exposed to environmental radiation contamination. Kluwer, Dordrecht/Boston/London, pp 131–141CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Baumstark-Khan C, Facius R (2002) Life under conditions of ionizing radiation. In: Horneck G, Baumstark-Khan C (eds) Astrobiology – the quest for the conditions of life. Springer, Berlin/Heidelberg/New York, pp 261–284Google Scholar
  3. Horneck G (2007) Space radiation biology. In: Brinckmann E (ed) Biology in space and life on Earth. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, pp 243–273CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Horneck G, Baumstark-Khan C, Reitz G (2002) Space microbiology: effects of ionizing radiation on microorganisms in space. In: Britton G (ed) The encyclopedia of environmental microbiology. Wiley, New York, pp 2988–2996Google Scholar
  5. Horneck G, Baumstark-Khan C, Facius R (2006) Radiation biology. In: Clément G, Slenska K (eds) Fundamentals of space biology – research on cells, animals, and plants in space. Space Technology Library with Microcosm Press and Springer, El Segundo, pp 291–336CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Kiefer J, Kost M, Schenk-Meuser K (1996) Radiation biology. In: Moore D, Bie P, Oser H (eds) Biological and medical research in space. Springer, Berlin, pp 300–367CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Moeller R, Reitz G, Berger T, Okayasu R, Nicholson WL, Horneck G (2010) Astrobiological aspects of the mutagenesis of cosmic radiation on bacterial spores. Astrobiology 10:509–521CrossRefADSGoogle Scholar
  8. Van Oostvelt P, Meesen G, Baert P, Poffijn A (2007) Evaluation of environmental radiation effects at the single cell level in space and on Earth. In: Brinckmann E (ed) Biology in space and life on Earth. Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, pp 223–241CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.German Aerospace Center (DLR)Institute of Aerospace MedicineCologneGermany