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Perez-Nunez, Delia; Braby, Leslie A.*

Health Physics:
doi: 10.1097/HP.0b013e3181b8d032

Neutrons produced from the interaction between galactic cosmic rays and spacecraft materials are responsible for a very important portion of the dose received by astronauts. The neutron energy spectrum depends on the incident charged particle spectrum and the scattering environment but generally extends to beyond 100 MeV. Tissue-equivalent proportional counters (TEPC) are used to measure the dose during the space mission, but their weight and size are very important factors for their design and construction. To achieve ideal neutron dosimetry, the wall thickness should be at least the range of a proton having the maximum energy of the neutrons to be monitored. This proton range is 0.1 cm for 10 MeV neutrons and 7.6 cm for 100 MeV neutrons. A 7.6 cm wall thickness TEPC would provide charged particle equilibrium (CPE) for neutrons up to 100 MeV, but for space applications it would not be reasonable in terms of weight and size. In order to estimate the errors in measured dose due to absence of CPE, MCNPX simulations of energy deposited by 10 MeV and 100 MeV neutrons in sites with wall thickness between 0.1 cm and 8.5 cm were performed. The results for 100 MeV neutrons show that energy deposition per incident neutron approaches a plateau as the wall thickness approaches 7.6 cm. For the 10 MeV neutrons, energy deposition per incident neutron decreases as the wall thickness increases above 0.1 cm due to attenuation.

Author Information

* Department of Nuclear Engineering, Texas A&M University, 3133 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-3133.

For correspondence contact Delia Perez-Nunez at the above address or email at

(Manuscript accepted 22 July 2009)

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