The articles I found on radiation in the solar system mostly dealt with solar wind, I wonder about other types. Is there a breakdown that tells me, withhin an order of magnitude, at least what intensity I can expect for a the different spectra - hard gamma through to radio frequencies, and chargede particles - and how this varies depending on my position?

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    $\begingroup$ You are asking about radiation that does not originate from the sun? Other than electro-magnetic radiation, including the cosmic microwave background and regular old starlight, there are cosmic rays :en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray. Is the discussion in the wikipedia article sufficient? $\endgroup$ – BebopButUnsteady Jul 1 '13 at 15:40
  • $\begingroup$ Effective GCR spectrum varies depending on the magnetic field (if any) of the planetary body nearby. This is a good question, and is in need of a comprehensive answer with quantitative refs. $\endgroup$ – Deer Hunter Jul 1 '13 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ I was not thinking about what are the significant sources (though you could probably not answer the question without going into that), but about what kind(s) of radiation one is subject to in different places. I think the question is hard to impossible to answer if you account for effects of planetary magnetic fields, so maybe we just talk about interplanetary space. To make it clear, I'm also thinking about X-rays and the like, not 'just' particles. Advise how I can make the question clearer? $\endgroup$ – mart Jul 2 '13 at 7:49
  • $\begingroup$ Here is a paper csc.caltech.edu/references/… which at least talks about some of this, but to summarize, its kind of a mess. I don't get the sense that there is much concern about the X-ray spectrum and the like, either because it is small or easy to shield. Also it seems that the largest concern is large but infrequent proton flares from the sun, so the average quantities are not what you need, but the worst case. $\endgroup$ – BebopButUnsteady Jul 5 '13 at 17:51
  • $\begingroup$ For something like sending a human to Mars, I believe one of the problems that's most difficult to solve is intergalactic cosmic rays, which have extremely high energies. If you try to shield against them, the shielding actually makes the problem worse, because when the cosmic rays hit the shielding, a lot of secondary particles are produced, and those are also very penetrating. $\endgroup$ – user4552 Jul 5 '13 at 18:52

This article covers the question

Radiation is divided into two categories - ionizing radiation and non-ionizing radiation.

Ionizing radiation is radiation with sufficient energy to remove electrons from the orbits of atoms resulting in charged particles, and it is this type of radiation that is evaluated for purposes of radiation protection. Examples of ionizing radiation include gamma rays, protons, and neutrons. Ionizing radiation is different from ion formation that occurs in ordinary chemical reactions, such as the generation of table salt from sodium and chlorine. In such a reaction, only the outermost electron is removed to form a positively charged ion. With ionizing radiation, if the energy is sufficient, electrons other than those in the outermost orbits can be released; this process renders the atom very unstable, and these ions are very chemically reactive.

Non-ionizing radiation is radiation without sufficient energy to remove electrons from their orbits. Examples are microwaves, radio waves, and visible light.

Space radiation consists primarily of ionizing radiation which exists in the form of high-energy, charged particles. There are three naturally occurring sources of space radiation: trapped radiation, galactic cosmic radiation (GCR), and solar particle events (SPE).

This press release talks about radiation on the way to Mars.

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  • $\begingroup$ I only skimmed the article, but my question was about intensities/dosage in different types and spectra of radiation. That does not seem to be in the article. $\endgroup$ – mart Dec 1 '14 at 20:29
  • $\begingroup$ In the last link there is a reference to the publication of the data "The findings, which are published in the May 31 edition of the journal Science, indicate radiation exposure for human explorers could exceed NASA's career limit for astronauts if current propulsion systems are used." if you have access to a library, which I do not, the numbers must be there $\endgroup$ – anna v Dec 1 '14 at 20:55

Ionizing radiation comes in many different forms, but most significantly in interplanetary space is the presence of charged particles. This is exemplified by high energy protons such as in Solar Wind or by other ionized elements. This is of primary significance for satellites, etc. and these devices undergo testing in particle accelerators which are capable of exciting particles to sufficient energies.

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