SpaceX launches ARMAS FM8 Radiation Detector into orbit
CAPE CANAVERAL, FLORIDA – Space Environment Technologies (SET), a global space weather research and operations company, announced the successful launch to orbit of its first ARMAS instrument using SpaceX’s Transporter-2 launch on June 30, 2021. The mission focuses on providing continuous radiation monitoring.
The Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) Flight Module 8 (FM8) is a payload on the TAGSAT-2 satellite. The satellite is attached to the mounting ring of the Transporter-2 vehicle. A total of 88 satellites were launched on this flight. The orbit is polar, sun-synchronous at about 550 km altitude for a duration of up to 7 years. Liftoff at 19:31 UT (12:31 pm PT) marked SET’s first orbital launch of an ARMAS instrument.
This is a major step forward for the ARMAS program in providing continuous, 24/7 radiation monitoring for air and space safety. The SET instrument team, led by Chief Instrument Scientist Dr. Leonid Didkovsky, developed the FM8 for this flight, which was integrated with the TAGSAT-2 satellite built and run by NearSpaceLaunch (NSL). Data will come from NSL to SET’s Data Services Division and be incorporated, near real-time, into the RADIAN data cube for global aviation radiation weather specification.
The ARMAS program (https://spacewx.com/armas-flight-programs/) has developed real-time monitoring technology to manage radiation risks for commercial aviation and commercial space transportation crew and passengers. ARMAS uses an innovative approach with dosimeter sensors linked to ground-based servers and physics-based models that aid advanced space radiation research and improve aviation and space-flight safety by providing global radiation weather.
“NSL’s satellite hosting ARMAS takes this program to the next milestone – implementing the system in orbit for continuous, accurate, automated radiation monitoring,” said Dr. W. Kent Tobiska, Principal Investigator for ARMAS. SET Senior Radiation Scientist Dr. Brad “Buddy” Gersey of SET noted that “This flight now gives us confidence for conducting accurate, calibrated operational management of radiation hazards from the Earth’s surface to above the top of the atmosphere.”
As ARMAS data are ingested into the RADIAN system, the accuracy of radiation dose rates along air and space flight paths improves. ARMAS improves air and space traffic management by providing monitoring of global radiation “weather” and allowing commercial air and space traffic to avoid higher radiation areas. The ARMAS iOS app in the Apple app store provides much of this information to individual users. An ultimate objective of this program is to reduce crew and passenger radiation exposure by providing the information to flight service operators so they can fly in lower radiation regions or spend less time in higher radiation locations. Accurate real-time monitoring of the dynamically changing radiation from galactic cosmic rays, solar flares, or the Van Allen radiation belts is an example of space weather services managing an environment that affects the health and productivity of a technologically advancing society.
About Space Environment Technologies.
Space Environment Technologies (SET) is headquartered in Southern California and conducts fundamental space research and provides advanced space weather products and services to U.S. Government and commercial aerospace customers. These include NASA, NOAA, USAF, NSF, and commercial aerospace organizations. SET transitions research models into operations, such as the JB2008 thermospheric density model, the USGS Dst index, the ARMAS aircraft radiation measurement system, and the AWSOME total dose and SEU system for avionics’ radiation hazard management in Low Earth Orbit vehicles. SET is particularly active with
- the NASA Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation for Aviation Safety (NAIRAS) global radiation model development in 2009-2011 that SET has been operationally supported at NASA Langley Research Center since 2012;
- the NASA Phases I, II, IIE, III Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) SBIR (2011-2019) that builds radiation detection instruments and ground system to monitor real-time aircraft radiation dose rates;
- the MDA Phases I, II, IIE Advanced Weather Simulation and Operational Modeling Effort (AWSOME) SBIR project (2014-2018) that built a server-based, real-time, operational space weather radiation environment coupled with operational CREME96 model routines that produce spectra for linear energy transfer (LET) of high Z (HZE) particles, protons, and electrons for any user-supplied parts lists; and
- the NASA RADIation environment using ARMAS data in the NAIRAS model (RADIAN) Cooperative Agreement enabling SET to provide ARMAS data for assimilation into the NASA NAIRAS global radiation model; this allows the specification of the radiation environment from the surface to Low Earth Orbit.
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