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Space Weather Effects on Spacecraft and Aircraft

Systems | Orbital Drag

Space Weather Effects on Spacecraft and Aircraft Systems

Space- and aircraft have with the years become highly advanced and the instrumentation they carry aboard extremely technically sofisticated.
It is this development that has made them more vulnerable to the space environment comprised of energetic charged particles and plasma populations.

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The new generation of spacecraft such as SOHO who have given us a new wealth of information about the Sun, have they themselves become the easier target of its activity. Where do all of these particles come from and why do we want to avoid them?

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The table below lists the four main sources of these particles with their corresponding unwanted effects:

  1. Cosmic Radiation,
  2. Solar Particle Events,
  3. Inner Radiation Belt and
  4. Outer Radiation Belt.

There exists a variety of effects that these particles may produce, including total dose, lattice displacement damage, single events upsets (SEE), noise in sensor and spacecraft charging (definitions).



Cosmic Radiation (protons and highly ionising heavier nuclei) Production of atmospheric secondaries (effects in aircraft systems and sea level electronics)

SEEs in electronics.

Background noise in sensor systems.

Solar Particle Events

Increases rates of single event upsets.

Significant enhancements in the radiation at supersonic aircraft altitudes.

The Inner Radiation Belt
(energetic protons and electrons)
Dose damage, noise and SEE
The Outer Radiation Belt
(energetic electrons)
Cumultative dose and damage effects.

Deep dielectric charging (responsible for numerous anamolies and some losses).

Surface charging anomalies.


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