Harald Koninckx wins Odissea prize for his work on health risks in space


On 16 February 2016, the President of Senate Christine Defraigne handed Harald Koninckx the Odissea prize 2015 for his graduation work entitled "Measures Counteracting the radiation health risks on a manned lunar outpost" in the framework of the advanced master's in Space Studies. He carried out his research in the laboratories of SCK•CEN under the guidance of Sarah Baatout, Marjan Moreels and Merel Van Wallegem of the Radiobiology group.

Sarah Baatout "Harald investigated how astronauts can protect themselves against the risks arising from cosmic radiation during a longer stay on the moon. He did several experiments in our labs and on the basis of the results he introduced solutions to reduce health risks."

One of the major concerns for a future moon platform is the radiation environment and how to protect astronauts against cosmic radiation. The impact on DNA damage of various antioxidants and shieldings following simulated radiation environment was assessed on human cells.

Sarah Baatout: "We are proud that Harald has been awarded this first prize. It shows that SCK•CEN  provides an ideal environment for students and scientists to perform innovative research, amongst others in the space field. It is the third time a student under the guidance of SCK•CEN, makes it to the five laureates In the Odissea Price, but Harald is now the first one to win the first prize. We congratulate him with this excellent achievement and wish him the best of luck in his further career."

The ceremony took place in the salons of the Senate in Brussels in the presence of viscount Dirk Frimout, chairman of the jury. The award, with a grant of € 8,000, is awarded to one or several final-year students at a European university or college of higher education to reward a graduation work in the field of space research.


© Kevin Oeyen