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Next Generation Miniature Charged Particle and Multi-Phenomenology Detectors


TECHNOLOGY AREA(S): Space Platforms 

OBJECTIVE: Develop detector technology that can drive Energetic Charged Particle sensor SWaP below current State of the Art by 6x or more while simplifying design and adding multi-phenomenology detection capability. 

DESCRIPTION: While current Energetic Charged Particle (ECP) sensors are acceptable for large space systems (~4kg, 10W, 3600cc) [1] and a second generation is being developed with 2x to 4x reduction in SwAP, further reduction in SWaP and system cost and complexity while retaining the full sensor capability [2] is desired for future systems using a variety of dedicated, contributing, and hosted platforms, ranging in size from current large vehicles to cubesats. As even second generation ECP sensors are large compared to some of these platforms, further reduction in SWaP is desired, but the minimum sensing capability remains a requirement. The intent is to develop detector technology that can be shown to drive down not just detector SWaP, but overall system SWaP by a factor of 6x or more over existing designs while adding phenomenology detected by reducing detector size, simplifying the electronics required to acquire the data, and limiting the need for high voltage, low-noise electronics, on-board data processing, etc. While [2] lists the energy range desired, some relief may be granted on energy range if dramatic SWaP reductions can be demonstrated while otherwise meeting requirements. As an example, utilizing solid-state detectors to avoid the need for higher-SWaP approaches to spectroscopy for energies below 1keV is an attractive option, even if it is unlikely to achieve the absolute lowest energy range required. The design should be able to be shown to function within the extreme space environment that is desired to be measured and not be susceptible to contamination from photons, other particle species, or different energies of the desired particle measurement. Additionally, detection of phenomena beyond energetic particles is desirable to support broader space situational awareness (SSA) needs, including other natural and man-made effects [i.e. 3]. Addition of detected phenomenology could lead to improved awareness for the host vehicle, and reduce the overall system SWaP. Additional capability to discriminate other threat and hazard phenomenology is strongly desired, but the detector must be able to properly characterize both the ECP environment and the additional phenomenology as hazardous or benign simultaneously, within desired accuracies. 

PHASE I: Evaluate proposed detector technology via modeling and simulation, limited prototyping, and conceptual design studies to evaluate suitability for ECP and other detection missions while achieving SWaP reductions. 

PHASE II: Refine detector technology. Develop and test breadboard detector/sensor mockup to show SWaP gains and test detector against laboratory representations of the charged particle environment and other phenomenologies. 

PHASE III: Develop demonstration sensor system suitable for insertion into ECP sensors and/or other detector technologies. Support demonstration of multi-phenomenology detection on test flight or in assorted high-fidelity laboratory environments. If suitably capable, this technology should find broad uptake throughout national security space and potentially for commercial and civil customers as well. 


1. Lindstrom, C “The Compact Environmental Anomaly Sensor Risk Reduction (CEASE-RR): A Pathfinder for Operational Energetic Charged Particle Sensors” IEEE Nuclear and Space Radiation Effects Conference, 17-21 July 2017, New Orleans, LA; 2. Wheelock, A. “White Paper on ECP Energy Range and Flux Requirements” [[WILL PROVIDE AS ATTACHMENT TO SITIS ENTRY]]; 3. Stephani, K. A., et al. (2014), Analysis and observation of spacecraft plume/ionosphere interactions during maneuvers of the space shuttle, J. Geophys. Res. Space Physics, 119, 7636–7648, doi:10.1002/2013JA019476.

KEYWORDS: Spacecraft, Anomaly, Attribution, Energetic Charged Particle, Threat Warning 

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