Spacecraft Radiation Protection

Course Length:



This two-day course provides an in-depth overview of risks posed by radiation to spacecraft and working solutions minimizing those risks. Students will gain a solid understanding of the radiation environment, its measurement, its effects and effective mitigation strategies.

What you will learn:

  • What the models are for space environments, where to find them, how to use them.
  • What the common radiation units mean.
  • How to equate damage from different species of radiation.
  • How to conduct total dose test.
  • How to conduct SEE tests.
  • How to use dose-depth curves in determining shield thickness.
  • How to shield neutrons.

Course Outline:

  1. Space Radiation Environment. Trapped protons and electrons. Solar energetic particles. Cosmic rays. Neutrons and gamma rays from Radioactive Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs). Secondary neutrons from large space structures. Mars surface and high altitude Earth enironment.
  2. Total Dose and Effects. Energy per unit mass. Units–rads, REMs, Grey, Sieverts. Ionization effects. Charge deposition, migration and collection. Effects on digital and analog MOS and bipolar devices including ELDRS. Annealing, recovery, rebound.
  3. Displacement Damage. Crystalline lattice deformations. Damage thresholds in silicon and gallium arsenide. Damage equivalence and NIEL. Effects of protons and neutrons on solar cells and detectors such as CCDs. Dark current, charge transfer efficiency, maximum power degradation.
  4. Single Event Effects. Ionization by primary particles and secondaries from nuclear collisions. Charge collection in small structures. Effects in digital and analog devices. Transient and permanent upsets, soft errors, latch-up, burn-out, SEFI. Volatile and non-volatile memories, micro and signal processors, DC/DC converters, optoelectronics.
  5. Testing and Mitigation Techniques. Total dose testing. SEE testing. Facilities. Shielding. Derating. Conservative circuit design. Systems mitigation. EDAC, latch-up protection circuitry, watch dog timers, autonomy.
  6. Human Effects. Long duration exposure in low Earth orbit and interplanetary transport vehicles. Threat of high-energy neutrons to astronauts. Effects in tissue and organs. Dose Equivalent and weighting factors. Risk of carcinogenesis, DNA damage. CNS effects.


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. Alan C. Tribble has provided space environments effects analysis to more than one dozen NASA, DoD, and commercial programs, including the International Space Station, the Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites, and survival surveillance spacecraft. He holds a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Iowa and has been twice a Principal Investigator for the NASA Space Environments and Effects Program. He is the author of four books, including the course text: The Space Environment – Implications for Space Design, and over 20 additional technical publications. He is an Associate Editor of the Journal of Spacecraft and Rockets, and Associate Fellow of the AIAA and a Senior Member of the IEEE. Dr. Tribble recently won the 2008 AIAA James A. Van Allen Space Environments Award. He has taught a variety of classes at the University of Southern California, California State University Long Beach, the University of Iowa, and has been teaching courses on space environments and effects since 1992.

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