Radiation monitoring, in particular of high-energetic electrons and protons, has been carried out for several decades both on the ground and in space. However, the instruments which are commonly used require complex and individual designs which are therefore expensive and difficult to transfer to new satellite missions. Traditionally a small number of these highly-specialized satellites have been used to study space-weather. Yet, this could be well complemented by a large number of small, cheaper instruments carrying radiation monitors such as the CPT-SCOPE.
A large number of cheap satellites to monitor space-weather would significantly help scientists to understand and test the current models of cosmic rays, solar high-energetic particles and their interaction with the atmosphere which in turn provides vital knowledge towards estimating their effect, for instance, on our planet's climate.
Our team will create a standard instrument which can be used on a variety of space missions. This instrument will use a simple, low-tech approach which can be used as a radiation indicator based on off-the-shelf single silicon diode operated in reverse-bias and consecutive charge amplification and digitalisation.
There are few radiation detectors which are compact enough for cheap and small satellites such as cubesats. Cubesats are being sent to space more commonly since their inception some 15 years ago. These cubesats are mainly developed by educational institutions which cannot afford large project costs.
We also plan to utilize a new multichannel read-out ASIC which has already been used for NUTS-related project work. The ASIC solution will provide multi-channel capability at highly reduced power consumption and heat dissipation alongside radiation hardness by design. These factors will give an edge to our instrument as compared to other devices designed from discrete components. Our design may also be utilised for interplanetary missions which require low mass and low-power to meet mission requirements. One such mission is the JUICE (Jupiter Icy Moon Explorer) mission by ESA to study the Jovian moons which is set for launch in 2022. We have also started collaboration with the BIRDY cubesat team which aims to send a cubesat to Mars.