Mars’ surface radiation environment measured with the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity Rover

Donald M. Hassler*, Cary Zeitlin, Robert F. Wimmer-Schweingruber, Bent Ehresmann, Scot Rafkin, Jennifer L. Eigenbrode, David E. Brinza, Gerald Weigle, Stephan Böttcher, Eckart Böhm, Soenke Burmeister, Jingnan Guo, Jan Köhler, Cesar Martin, Guenther Reitz, Francis A. Cucinotta, Myung-Hee Kim, David Grinspoon, Mark A. Bullock, Arik PosnerJavier Gõmez-Elvira, Ashwin Vasavada, John P. Grotzinger, MSL Science Team

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

463 Citations (Scopus)


The Radiation Assessment Detector (RAD) on the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover began making detailed measurements of the cosmic ray and energetic particle radiation environment on the surface of Mars on 7 August 2012. We report and discuss measurements of the absorbed dose and dose equivalent from galactic cosmic rays and solar energetic particles on the martian surface for ~300 days of observations during the current solar maximum. These measurements provide insight into the radiation hazards associated with a human mission to the surface of Mars and provide an anchor point with which to model the subsurface radiation environment, with implications for microbial survival times of any possible extant or past life, as well as for the preservation of potential organic biosignatures of the ancient martian environment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number1244797
Number of pages7
Issue number6169
Early online date9 Dec 2013
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jan 2014

Bibliographical note

This paper is dedicated to Dr. Michael J. Wargo at NASA HQ, who passed away unexpectedly on 4 August 2013. Mike was Chief Exploration Scientist in the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and an enthusiastic supporter of collaborative projects between Science and Exploration. He was a strong supporter of RAD and a valuable member of both the science and exploration communities. He was a good friend and a wonderful human being, and he will be greatly missed. RAD is supported by NASA under Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) subcontract 1273039 to Southwest Research Institute and in Germany by Deutsches Zentrum fur Luft- und Raumfahrt (DLR) and DLR’s
Space Administration grant numbers 50QM0501 and 50 QM1201 to the Christian Albrechts University, Kiel. Part of this research was carried out at JPL, California Institute of Technology, under a contract with NASA. We extend sincere gratitude to J. Simmonds and J. Crisp at JPL; G. Allen, M. Meyer, C. Moore, V. Friedensen, and R. Williams at NASA HQ; and H. Witte at DLR in Germany for their unwavering support of RAD over the years. The authors also thank the reviewers for their careful and thoughtful comments and suggestions. The data used in this paper are archived in the NASA Planetary Data System’s Planetary Plasma Interactions (PPI) node at the University of California, Los Angeles. The archival volume includes the full binary raw data files, detailed descriptions of the structures therein, and higher-level data products in human-readable form. The PPI node is hosted at


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