Space Weather Effects on Spacecraft & Aircraft
Space Department, QinetiQ, Farnborough
Satellite systems are vulnerable to Space Weather through its influence on charged particle and plasma populations, which produce a variety of effects, including total dose, lattice displacement damage, single event effects (SEE), sensor noise and electrostatic charging. In addition aircraft electronics and aircrew are subjected to atmospheric radiation produced by cosmic rays and solar particle events. EU legislation requires the control of aircrew exposure, while the decreasing feature size of modern microelectronics is leading to increased vulnerability of avionics. Examples of all these effects will be given based on observed anomalies or on-board dosimetry. In particular, data from the Microelectronics and Photonics Test Bed show the variability of the environment and its effects across the current solar maximum. Solar particle events are notoriously difficult to predict and show huge variations in intensity, composition and spectral hardness. Analysis of the major ground-level events using Monte Carlo transport codes shows that doses to aircrew and enhanced SEE rates from such events can be very significant. Data obtained from Concorde flights during 1989 are critical to validating these calculations. Work is in hand on International Standards to deal with SEE in avionics.