Radiation Effects in Space
Key Considerations for Preventing Satellite Radiation Effects
- Avoid leaving polymers directly exposed to space environments. Cover them with multi-layer insulation (MLI), for example.
- Don’t leave “mouseholes” in your spacecraft. Closeout all openings in the chassis to prevent plasma from entering the vehicle.
- Follow good electrical grounding practices. Avoid leaving anything electrically isolated, especially conductors.
- Design for parametric degradation. In other words, don’t push your design to its limits, but rather allow for voltages to change and leakage to increase, don’t expect large BJT gains, etc.
- Filter voltage references.
- Use wide differential inputs on comparators.
- Use error correction codes (ECC) on memory and then scrub to correct errors so they don’t accumulate.
- In general, minimize voltages. One way to do that is to use a rad tolerant front end to step down voltages and lessen the risk for downstream components.
- Use rad tolerant hardware watchdogs, especially if you have circuits that can’t be reset (which is not advised).
Work with a Radiation Effects Testing Facility
The best practices above will help you select materials and design components and vehicles that are more resilient and better protected from satellite radiation effects. To confirm their resilience, it is critical to collaborate with a radiation effects testing facility.