Space radiation environment

Space electronic systems employ enclosures to shield sensitive components from space radiation. The standard practice in space hardware is the use of aluminium as both radiation shield and structural enclosure. Depending on mission altitude, inclination and the dose rating of electronics, the thickness of aluminium necessary for shielding can substantially exceed that required for structural strength, resulting in significant weight penalties.

Satellite designers use composite materials which have higher strength-to-weight ratios than aluminium. However, conventional graphite epoxy composites are not as efficient shielding materials as aluminium because of their lower density, that is, for the same mass, composites provide 30 to 40% less radiation attenuation than aluminium. Conversely, for the same radiation attenuation, the composites tend to be 30 to 40% thicker than aluminium.

Therefore, improvement of the radiation shielding behaviour of composite materials is required. Aspects that will be solved within SIDER project are:

  • Material / elements to be added to the composite enclosure to obtain required level of radiation shielding with minimum mass;
  • Amount to be added;
  • Position in the laminate of the composite structure in order to obtain the required level of radiation shielding

SIDER project is funded under European Community’s Seventh Framework Programme (FP7/2007-2013) and addresses the objectives of activity 9.2 “Strengthening the foundations of Space science and technology”, SPA.2010.2.3-01 “Security of space assets from space weather events”.

Starting date: 1st of December 2010

Duration: 3 years





Tecnalia Aalto University CSL Sensor Center breeding ground for novel sensor technologies Yuzhnoye desing office
2011 SIDER. Radiation Shielding of Composite Space Enclosures
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