Tech Briefs

Galactic Cosmic Ray Event- Based Risk Model (GERM) Code

This software describes the transport and energy deposition of the passage of galactic cosmic rays in astronaut tissues during space travel, or heavy ion beams in patients in cancer therapy. Space radiation risk is a probability distribution, and time-dependent biological events must be accounted for physical description of space radiation transport in tissues and cells. A stochastic model can calculate the probability density directly without unverified assumptions about shape of probability density function.

The prior art of transport codes calculates the average flux and dose of particles behind spacecraft and tissue shielding. Because of the signaling times for activation and relaxation in the cell and tissue, transport code must describe temporal and microspatial density of functions to correlate DNA and oxidative damage with non-targeted effects of signals, bystander, etc. These are absolutely ignored or impossible in the prior art.

The GERM code provides scientists data interpretation of experiments; modeling of beam line, shielding of target samples, and sample holders; and estimation of basic physical and biological outputs of their experiments. For mono-energetic ion beams, basic physical and biological properties are calculated for a selected ion type, such as kinetic energy, mass, charge number, absorbed dose, or fluence. Evaluated quantities are linear energy transfer (LET), range (R), absorption and fragmentation cross-sections, and the probability of nuclear interactions after 1 or 5 cm of water equivalent material. In addition, a set of biophysical properties is evaluated, such as the Poisson distribution for a specified cellular area, cell survival curves, and DNA damage yields per cell.

Also, the GERM code calculates the radiation transport of the beam line for either a fixed number of user-specified depths or at multiple positions along the Bragg curve of the particle in a selected material.

The GERM code makes the numerical estimates of basic physical and biophysical quantities of high-energy protons and heavy ions that have been studied at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory (NSRL) for the purpose of simulating space radiation biological effects. In the first option, properties of mono-energetic beams are treated. In the second option, the transport of beams in different materials is treated. Similar biophysical properties as in the first option are evaluated for the primary ion and its secondary particles. Additional properties related to the nuclear fragmentation of the beam are evaluated. The GERM code is a computationally efficient Monte-Carlo heavy-ion-beam model. It includes accurate models of LET, range, residual energy, and straggling, and the quantum multiple scattering fragmentation (QMSGRG) nuclear database.

This work was done by Francis A. Cucinotta of Johnson Space Center and Ianik Plante, Artem L. Ponomarev, and Myung- Hee Y. Kim of the Universities Space Research Association. MSC-24760-1

This Brief includes a Technical Support Package (TSP).

Galactic Cosmic Ray Event- Based Risk Model (GERM) Code (reference MSC-24760-1) is currently available for download from the TSP library.

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