The National Superconducting Cyclotron Laboratory is primarily a user facility for experimental physics research using protons and heavy nuclei at energies from ~ 0.2 GeV/nucleon for protons through O and decreasing to 0.07 GeV/nucleon for Fe. The facility is not set up for radiobiology and the energies are too low to be useful for many of the research strategies suggested in the main text of this report, but the facility could be used for some physics that would be of interest to NASA.
The 88-inch cyclotron is used primarily for physics research using protons and heavy ions up to Ne, at energies up to 0.3 GeV/nucleon. For heavier ions, the energy per nucleon decreases with increasing mass. Fundamental radiobiology experiments can be carried out at this site, but the energies are too low to be useful for many of the research strategies suggested in this report.
The primary mission of the Loma Linda facility is cancer therapy, using protons with energies up to 250 MeV. Eight beam lines enter five shielded rooms. Three of the lines enter one room, where they are used for biological, physical, and engineering studies. The facilities are excellent and are currently used by NASA for up to 400 hr/yr, during the times that therapies are not in progress. This facility would be useful for experiments studying solar events, but not for those studying the effects of protons in the 1-GeV range.
Protons at 850-MeV are available in a parasitic mode from the LAMPF facility, which is used for physics research and radioisotope production. Although the energy range is useful, the radiobiology and animal facilities are not as extensive as those at Brookhaven National Laboratory, and LAMPF's long-term future as a research facility is not assured.
The Northeast Proton Therapy Center facility is now under construction, with operation expected in 1998. A cyclotron will deliver 235-MeV protons to three treatment rooms (total budgeted cost, $46 million). There are no provisions, at present, for radiation biology.
At the cyclotron at the University of California at Davis, 4- to 70-MeV protons may be used for radiobiology, but the research facilities and energies do not compare to those at Loma Linda.
Other U.S. facilities for physics research run at energies that overlap those described above but have not been adapted for radiation biology.