Space Environment & It’s Effects On Space Systems

Course Length:



This four-day class on the space environment and its effects on space systems is for technical and management personnel who wish to gain an understanding of the important issues that must be addressed in the development of space instrumentation, subsystems, and systems. The goal is to assist students to achieve their professional potential by endowing them with an understanding of the fundamentals of the space environment and its effects. The class is designed for participants who expect to either, plan, design, build, integrate, test, launch, operate or manage payloads, subsystems, launch vehicles, spacecraft, or ground systems.

Each participant will receive a copy of the reference textbook: Pisacane, VL. The Space Environment and its Effects on Space Systems. AIAA Education Series, 2008.

What you will learn:

  • Space system failures caused by the space environment
  • Risk analysis, management, and mitigation
  • Fundamentals of the space neutral, plasma, solar, and radiation environments
  • Effects of the space environment on space systems and how to mitigate their effects

Who should attend:

Scientists, engineers, and managers involved in the management, planning, design, fabrication, integration, test, or operation of space instruments, space subsystems, and spacecraft are the targeted audience. The course will provide an understanding of the space environment and its interactions with payloads and spacecraft to improve their design and enhance their performance and survivability.

Course Outline:

  1. OVERVIEW OF SELECTED SYSTEMS Typical spacecraft missions, Cassini-Huygens mission, Near Earth Asteroid, Space Navigation Systems
  2. RISK MANAGEMENT Risk Management Plan and Procedures, Hazard Analyses (Weibull distribution), Reliability, Testing to Enhance Reliability Readiness Assessments, Techniques to Enhance Reliability, Reliability and Quality Assurance
  3. UNIVERSE Formation of the Universe, Evidence for the Big Bang, Dark Matter, Dark Energy, Structure of the Universe, Star Formation and Evolution, Detecting Black Holes, Extrasolar Planets
  4. SOLAR SYSTEM Formation, Solar System Bodies, Planets and their Characteristics, Dwarf Planets and Plutoids, Small Solar System Bodies (asteroids, comets, Kuiper belt objects, Oort cloud)
  5. THE SUN Overview of Solar Characteristics, Structure of the Sun, Solar Rotation Rates, Solar Activity (sunspots, CME’s etc), Heliosphere, Solar Energy, Surface Interactions (radiation pressure, ultraviolet degradation), Solar Simulators
  6. GRAVITATIONAL FIELDS Fundamentals (law of motion and gravitation, conservative force, potential), Higher-Order Gravitational Fields (surface spherical harmonic representation, Legendre functions), Gravitational Models (World Geodetic System (WGS), Earth Gravitational Models (EGM), geoid and reference ellipsoid, planetary models), Liquid and Solid Body Tides (effects on Moon and Earth), Two-body Motion, Orbit Precession, Lagrange Librations Points, Gravity Gradient Forces and Torques
  7. MAGNETIC FIELDS Magnetic Field properties, Dynamo Model, Dipole Magnetic Field, Solar and Interplanetary Magnetic Field Solar System Magnetic Field, Magnetic Field Modeling, Magnetic Field Models, Magnetic Field Disruptions and Reversals, Magnetic Activity, Magnetic Rigidity, Magnetic Field Interaction with Spacecraft Systems, Magnetometers, Earth’s Electric Field
  8. MAGNETOSPHERE Ionopause, Magnetosphere (standoffs altitudes, relative sizes, solar wind characteristics), Solar System Magnetospheres (planetary magnetospheres, ring currents)
  9. RADIATION ENVIRONMENT Radiation Sources, Motion of Charged Particles (Lorentz force, equation of motion), Single Particle Motion in Uniform Field (gyration, gyro-frequency, Larmor radius), Motion in Non-Uniform Fields (guiding center motion, drifts, simulations), Trapped Radiation (Earth models, simulation results, observations), Cosmic Rays (anomalous, galactic, solar modulation, models, simulations), Solar Particle Events (observed events, time variation, correlation with solar activity, models), Mars Surface Model
  10. RADIATION INTERACTIONS Radiation Effects, Radiation Fundamentals (ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, charge particle interactions, nuclear and electron interactions, stopping power, linear energy transfer, Bethe-Bloch equation), Photon Interactions, Neutron Interactions, Charged Particle Interactions (transport codes, shielding effectiveness), Semiconductors (susceptibility), Effects on Semiconductors (displacement, total ionization, and single event effects), Radiation Mitigation (SOA, scrubbing, hardness assurance, strategies), Relative Damage Coefficients (sample RDCs, simulations), Radiation Hardness Assurance and Qualification (activities by program phase, test, relevant documents, safety factors)
  11. RADIOBIOLOGY Fundamentals (ionizing and non ionizing radiation, deterministic and stochastic effects), Radiation Units (activity, absorbed, dose equivalent, equivalent dose), Radiation Standards (exposure recommendations, risks), Radiation Spaceflight Risks (limits, estimated and measured mission exposures, missions restrictions)
  12. NEUTRAL ATMOSPHERE Gas laws, Kinetic theory of Gases, Effusion, Paschen’s Law, Earth’s Atmosphere, Pressure Density variation with Altitude, Planetary Atmospheres, Propagation, Atomic Oxygen, Aerodynamic Forces, Earth Atmospheric Models, Planetary Atmospheric Models
  13. PLASMA INTERACTIONS Plasma Characteristics, Planetary Ionospheres, Earth Ionosphere, Ionospheric Data, Earth Ionospheric Models, Propagation in a Plasma, Sputtering, Spacecraft Charging, Spacecraft Charging Mitigation, Solar Array Grounding
  14. SPACECRAFT CONTAMINATION Material Outgassing, Surface Cleanliness Levels, Cleanroom Cleanliness, Contamination Control Program, Contamination Analysis, Contamination Assessment, Planetary Protection
  15. METEOROIDS AND SPACE DEBRIS Meteoroid and Debris Observations, Meteoroid Models, Debris Models, Debris Clouds, Gabbard Diagrams, Debris Mitigation, Collision Probabilities, Recommendations for Impact Protection , Shields and Bumpers, Collision Avoidance, ORION MMOD Protection , DRAGONS Mission


REGISTRATION:  There is no obligation or payment required to enter the Registration for an actively scheduled course.   We understand that you may need approvals but please register as early as possible or contact us so we know of your interest in this course offering.

SCHEDULING:  If this course is not on the current schedule of open enrollment courses and you are interested in attending this or another course as an open enrollment, please contact us at (410)956-8805 or Please indicate the course name, number of students who wish to participate. and a preferred time frame. ATI typically schedules open enrollment courses with a 3-5 month lead-time.   To express your interest in an open enrollment course not on our current schedule, please email us at

For on-site pricing, you can use the request an on-site quote form, call us at (410)956-8805, or email us at


  • Dr. Vincent L. Pisacane was the Robert A. Heinlein Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the United States Naval Academy where he taught courses in space exploration and its physiological effects, space communications, astrodynamics, space environment, space communication, space power systems, and the design of spacecraft and space instruments. He was previously at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory where he was the Head of the Space Department, Director of the Institute for Advanced Science and Technology in Medicine, and Assistant Director for Research and Exploratory Development. He concurrently held a joint academic appointment in biomedical engineering at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. He has been the principal investigator on several NASA funded grants on space radiation, orbital debris, and the human thermoregulatory system. He is a fellow of the AIAA. He currently teaches graduate courses in space systems engineering at the Johns Hopkins University. In addition he has taught short courses on these topics. He has authored over a hundred papers on space systems and bioastronautics.

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