Cosmic rays represent one of the most fascinating research themes in modern astronomy and physics. Significant progress is being made toward an understanding of the astrophysics of the sources of cosmic rays and the physics of interactions in the ultrahigh-energy range. This is possible because several new experiments in these areas have been initiated. Cosmic rays may hold answers to a great number of fundamental questions, but they also shape our natural habitat and influence the radiation environment of our planet Earth. The importance of the study of cosmic rays has been acknowledged in many fields, including space weather science and astrobiology.
Here, we concentrate on the astrobiological aspects of cosmic rays with regard to the enormous amount of new data available, some of which may, in fact, improve our knowledge about the radiation of cosmic origin on Earth. We focus on fluxes arriving at Earth and doses received, and will guide the reader through the wealth of scientific literature on cosmic rays. We have prepared a concise and self-contained source of data and recipes useful for performing interdisciplinary research in cosmic rays and their effects on life on Earth.
Key Word: Radiation.
Astrobiology. May 2009, 9(4): 413-436.