Severe Space Weather Satellite Protection

Award Information
Agency: Department of Defense
Branch: Air Force
Contract: FA9453-11-M-0120
Agency Tracking Number: F103-104-1263
Amount: $99,995.00
Phase: Phase I
Program: SBIR
Awards Year: 2011
Solicitation Year: 2010
Solicitation Topic Code: AF103-104
Solicitation Number: 2010.3
Small Business Information
44 Hunt Street, Watertown, MA, -
DUNS: 073804411
HUBZone Owned: N
Woman Owned: N
Socially and Economically Disadvantaged: N
Principal Investigator
 James Christian
 Group Leader
 (617) 668-6897
Business Contact
 Nancy Marshall
Title: Contracts Administration Manager
Phone: (617) 668-6810
Research Institution
ABSTRACT: Modern space electronics used for military space communications are susceptible to highly energized charged particles such as electrons and protons originating from coronal mass ejections that create geomagnetic storms. There is a need for advanced protection measures that can help minimize the impact to space electronics caused by current surges during these solar storms. Although optical monitoring of the sun can predict the onset of severe space weather conditions, determining the details of the conditions often requires on-board satellite sensors. Current sensing platforms work well and provide information on the particle identification, flux, and energy of the space environment. These sensing platforms, however, are relatively large and incorporating them in the modern, smaller satellite platforms is not straightforward. Recent advances in scintillation materials provide the basis for developing compact radiation and radiation-hard spectroscopic detectors capable of distinguishing between different particles. The goal of the proposed research is to develop a lightweight, radiation hard and real-time radiation detector platform that can help protect satellites and monitor space weather conditions. The proposed solution involves coupling recently discovered charged-particle-sensitive scintillation detector with solid state photomultipliers (SSPMs) to monitor protons and electrons characteristic of solar events over a wide range of energies. BENEFIT: During space flight, both the immediate rate and total exposure information can be recorded simultaneously by these high efficiency digital dosimeters. The compact size and inexpensive nature of these sensors also opens the possibility of monitoring many areas for comparison of radiation exposure, including individual monitors for each satellite, even for the emerging, smaller, next-generation designs. Ground-based research and comparisons will also become easier and less expensive with the SSPM dosimeter. Inexpensive radiation dosimeters are in general demand for commercial applications, such as personnel or waste monitoring, other applications include border monitoring for homeland security and protecting satellites and ground-based equipment from solar flares. The ability to inexpensively mass-produce these devices creates a entirely new market for arrays of distributed sensors.

* Information listed above is at the time of submission. *

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