, Volume 179, Issue 1-4, pp 485-502,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 22 Sep 2012

The Engineering Radiation Monitor for the Radiation Belt Storm Probes Mission

Abstract

An Engineering Radiation Monitor (ERM) has been developed as a supplementary spacecraft subsystem for NASA’s Radiation Belt Storm Probes (RBSP) mission. The ERM will monitor total dose and deep dielectric charging at each RBSP spacecraft in real time. Configured to take the place of spacecraft balance mass, the ERM contains an array of eight dosimeters and two buried conductive plates. The dosimeters are mounted under covers of varying shielding thickness to obtain a dose-depth curve and characterize the electron and proton contributions to total dose. A 3-min readout cadence coupled with an initial sensitivity of ∼0.01 krad should enable dynamic measurements of dose rate throughout the 9-hr RBSP orbit. The dosimeters are Radiation-sensing Field Effect Transistors (RadFETs) and operate at zero bias to preserve their response even when powered off. The range of the RadFETs extends above 1000 krad to avoid saturation over the expected duration of the mission. Two large-area (∼10 cm2) charge monitor plates set behind different thickness covers will measure the dynamic currents of weakly-penetrating electrons that can be potentially hazardous to sensitive electronic components within the spacecraft. The charge monitors can handle large events without saturating (∼3000 fA/cm2) and provide sufficient sensitivity (∼0.1 fA/cm2) to gauge quiescent conditions. High time-resolution (5 s) monitoring allows detection of rapid changes in flux and enables correlation of spacecraft anomalies with local space weather conditions. Although primarily intended as an engineering subsystem to monitor spacecraft radiation levels, real-time data from the ERM may also prove useful or interesting to a larger community.