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The Rad Pack

None of us at Rads on a Plane are medical doctors, nor are we offering medical advice. Instead, we are astrophysicists, computer scientists, and communicators. Our job, as we see it, is to gather true information about aviation radiation and to share it with you. It's up to you to decide what it means for your health.

All of us continue to travel on planes without fear of immediate effects from the exposure we receive onboard. However, the more we have learned about the radiation environment "up there", the more we have become mindful of our accumulated doses--and thoughtful of other travelers such as pregnant women who may be more vulnerable than we are.

A few words from The Rad Pack

Dr. Tony Phillips

Dr. Tony Phillips is a professional astronomer and science writer, best known for his authorship of He received his PhD from  Cornell  University in 1992 and worked for many years after that as a radio astronomer at Caltech. He has published more than 100 refereed articles in research journals such as Nature, the Astrophysical Journal, and the Journal of Geophysical Research. Research interests include planetary and neutron star magnetospheres, radio storms on Jupiter, and cosmic rays.  Recent work related to Rads on a Plane includes the following: In 2015, he led a series of high-altitude balloon launches in support of NASA's RAD-X (Radiation Dosimetry Experiment) mission to explore radiation hazards to air travelers. In 2016, he was named to the working group for NASA's Living With a Star Institute on Aviation Radiation (a.k.a. "SAFESKY"). He is a co-author of the following referred papers on aviation radiation: Advances in Atmospheric Radiation Measurements and Modeling Needed to Improve Air Safety (2015, Space Weather); Space Weather Ballooning (2016, Space Weather); Atmospheric radiation modeling of galactic cosmic rays using LRO/CRaTER and the EMMREM model with comparisons to balloon and airline based measurements (2016, Space Weather). In 2016, Tony delivered the keynote address at NOAA Space Weather Workshop: "Using Microbes as Biological  Radiation Sensors.”

Hervey Allen

Over the past 10 years, Hervey Allen has flown close to 2,000,000 miles and absorbed cosmic radiation doses equal to many thoracic chest X-rays. This gives the computer scientist from the University of Oregon a special interest in keeping track of "Rads on a Plane." Hervey has developed techniques for collecting GPS-tagged measurements of secondary cosmic rays inside airplanes and written code to predict dose rates on flights anywhere in the world. His proprietary optimization of NOAA's World Magnetic Model computes components of Earth's magnetic field so rapidly, our customers will be able to receive realtime radiation alerts while they're still in the air. Hervey is the lead programmer for Rads on a Plane and a frequent blogger, sharing his stories about data gathering as a frequent flyer for science.

Katharine Allen

Katharine is a professional interpreter with a background in marketing and communications. Her interpreting skills are invaluable as we travel around the world gathering radiation data in places where we sometimes can't speak the language. Although not a professional scientist, Katharine has learned to take cosmic ray data on airplanes, and she has contributed thousands of GPS-tagged radiation measurements to our growing database. Katharine's background as a world traveler, cosmic ray data-taker, and communicator puts her in a unique position to correct the rest of the team when they use jargon that a lay person might not understand. She is the webmaster of

Anna Herbst

Anna is a founding member of the student research group Earth to Sky Calculus. In 2011 she and her classmates began launching helium balloons to the stratosphere on a regular basis. They soon discovered that they could measure cosmic rays in the atmosphere and, moreover, that those radiation levels were increasing with time. Anna has helped develop methods to analyze cosmic ray data gathered by balloons, and later adapted those methods to data gathered on airplanes. Today, as a senior at the University of Oregon, Anna is our lead data analyst. She crunches the numbers from every single balloon launch and airplane flight we conduct in support of Rads on a Plane.

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The Rad Pack


Without Earth to Sky Calculus there would be no Rads on a Plane. Earth to Sky Calculus is group of youth doing cutting-edge science in a little-explored realm 100,000 feet above our heads: the stratosphere. What began as an extra-curricular calculus and quantum mechanics class begun in 5th grade, eventually turned into a hands-on spaceweather ballooning program to search for new life forms in the stratosphere and to monitor the effects of cosmic radiation on Earth’s atmosphere. Their efforts are 100% crowdfunded. Small business, non-profits, and small businesses “own” this research and are responsible for its advance.

Earth to Sky's ongoing spaceweather ballooning program continues to be a cornerstone in the Rads on a Plane research program

You can learn more about what is likely the most active citizen-science spaceweather ballooning program in the world and the wonderful youth who participate at or by visiting the Earth to Sky Calculus Facebook page. 

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