NASA selects SET for new radiation sensor

NASA selects SET for new radiation sensor

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA. Space Environment Technologies (SET) announced that it has been selected by NASA’s SBIR program to develop a new radiation detection sensor. In conjunction with Oklahoma State University (OSU), SET will develop this new radiation detector system for use in aircraft, suborbital, orbital, and deep space missions.

The OSU Provided, SET Produced RAdiation Detector (OPSRAD) detector will be sensitive to multiple radiation types and energies. W. Kent Tobiska, President of SET, noted that “It must provide continuous, high cadence, low latency, 24/7/365 data for multiple spatial domains from the Earth’s atmosphere, through suborbital, LEO, MEO, and GEO regions into deep space. As such it will produce real-time streams of calibrated and validated data for operational users.”

This system will be smaller than existing systems and will use modular location, communications, and data storage features. Its per unit cost will be an order of magnitude less than the current cost of detector systems.

NASA has long had an interest in evolving the current state of radiation detector systems. For them, and the aerospace community as a whole, knowledge of the radiation environment, from the terrestrial atmosphere into space, is critical for protecting existing national ground, air, and space assets as well as safely enabling our continued technological expansion into space.

The development of capabilities that protect and mitigate critical systems from ionizing radiation exposure hazards, whether they be from charged particles, neutrons, or energetic photons, is a high priority that has been identified in the National Space Weather Strategy and Action Plan (NSWSAP, 2019). In particular, NSWSAP asks agencies to “test, evaluate, and deploy technologies and devices to mitigate the effects of space weather on critical functions and assets”, particularly testing “devices that mitigate the effects of space weather … or radiation events on satellites.” NSWSAP further calls for the inclusion “of processes to improve the transition of research approaches to operations and utilize incentives and cost recovery mechanisms to encourage private sector participation.” It is in this context that SET and OSU have partnered to develop this new capability.