Astronauts traveling to Mars will be exposed to high levels of ionizing radiation upon leaving low-Earth orbit. During prolonged space travel, astronauts are exposed to galactic cosmic rays (GCRs) composed of protons; oxygen molecules; and high energy, high mass charged particles. Notably, oxygen molecules can travel through the shielding of spacecraft, potentially impacting 25% of the hippocampus. The aim of the current study was to assess whether 16O-particle radiation induced a behavioral deficit and histological changes in mice. Mice were sent to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Space Radiation Laboratory at Brookhaven National Laboratory and exposed to particulate 16O radiation at doses of 0 and 0.05 Gy. Nine months after irradiation, the mice were tested for novel object recognition and in the Y-maze, after which the animals were sacrificed. The brains were then dissected along the midsagittal plane for Golgi staining. Exposure to 0.05 Gy significantly impaired novel object recognition. However, short term memory and exploratory activity in the Y-maze were not affected. Micromorphometric analysis revealed significant decreases in mushroom spine density in the dentate gyrus and cornu Ammonis-1 and -3 of the hippocampus. Sholl analysis revealed a significant decrease in dendritic complexity in the dentate gyrus. The present data provide evidence that space radiation has deleterious effects on mature neurons associated with hippocampal learning and memory.