Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety - High-altitude (ARMAS-Hi)

PI: W Kent Tobiska, Space Environment Technologies (SPACEWX), Leonid Didkovsky (Co-I), University of Southern California

This project will be the first demonstration of a real-time Commercial-Off-The-Shelf (COTS)-based technology for ionizing-radiation dose assessment at high altitudes with a global operational application. Radiation monitoring capabilities at high altitudes are important for human space exploration by helping specify the radiation environment consistency from the surface to Low Earth Orbit (LEO), i.e., a space tourism safety concern. This work will result in a better understanding of the radiation environment due to Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs) and solar proton events (SPEs) for altitudes transitioning into space.

SWW Panel Space Weather and Aviation April 18, 2018 presentation: Real-time radiation weather for commercial aviation on the horizon.

SBIR Phase II (2012)
SBIR Phase I (2011)

Technology Areas (?)
  • TA06 Human Health, Life Support and Habitation Systems
  • TA08 Science Instruments, Observations and Sensor Systems
Problem Statement

This project is part of a larger technology advancement plan to develop and validate an operational radiation monitoring capability. There are four altitude domains (LEO, suborbital, high-altitude, and aviation altitude) in which radiation affects human activity and they need to be monitored as a whole system (deep space missions excluded). As human activity in space becomes more common, there is a recognized need to operationally and self-consistently specify and forecast the radiation environment from the ground to LEO in real-time.

Technology Maturation

The top technical issue to demonstrate is an automated, real-time radiation measurement system using COTS components that can sustain operation in a harsher radiation environment than has previously been experienced with the existing state-of-the-art system. ARMAS-Hi will start at TRL6, where engineering feasibility has been fully demonstrated in aircraft flight. The ~5-minute Level 3 data product is real-time and its production from the balloon flight will validate the system-level at TRL7.

Future Customers

ARMAS-Hi intends to demonstrate a technology that can identify high cancer-risk radiation dose rates from career-limiting Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCR) that are experienced by astronauts, high-altitude pilots, frequent commercial aviation flyers, pregnant mothers, and commercial space travelers. This system is intended to be integrated into global air (and space) traffic management (ATM) as envisioned by other U.S. Government agencies, including FAA’s NextGen air transportation system.

Technology Details

  • Selection Date
    REDDI-F1-16 (Jul 2016)
  • Program Status
  • Current TRL (?)
    Successful FOP Flights
  • 1 Balloon

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