Prototype Operational Advances for Atmospheric Radiation Dose Rate Specification 

Wednesday, 17 December 2014
W Kent Tobiska1, Dave Bouwer1, Justin James Bailey1, Leonid V Didkovsky1,2, Kevin Judge1, Henry Berry Garrett1, William Atwell1, Brad Gersey3, Richard Wilkins3, Don Rice4, Robert Walter Schunk4, Duane Bell4, Christopher J Mertens5, Xiaojing Xu6, Geoffrey Crowley7, Adam Reynolds7, Irfan Azeem7, Michael James Wiltberger8, Scott Wiley9, Stephen Bacon9, Edward Teets10, Alec Sim10 and Laura Dominik11, (1)Space Environment Technologies, Pacific Palisades, CA, United States, (2)Univ of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA, United States, (3)Prairie View A & M University, CRESSE, Prairie View, TX, United States, (4)Utah State University, Logan, UT, United States, (5)NASA Langley Research Ctr, Hampton, VA, United States, (6)Science Systems and Applications, Inc. Hampton, Hampton, VA, United States, (7)Atmospheric and Space Technology Research Associates LLC, Boulder, CO, United States, (8)National Center for Atmospheric Research, High Altitude Observatory, Boulder, CO, United States, (9)Tybrin Corporation, Palmdale, CA, United States, (10)NASA Armstrong Flight Research Center, Palmdale, CA, United States, (11)Honeywell Engineering and Technology, Minneapolis, MN, United States
Space weather’s effects upon the near-Earth environment are due to dynamic changes in the energy transfer processes from the Sun’s photons, particles, and fields. The coupling between the solar and galactic high-energy particles, the magnetosphere, and atmospheric regions can significantly affect humans and our technology as a result of radiation exposure. Space Environment Technologies (SET) has developed innovative, new space weather observations that will become part of the toolset that is transitioned into operational use. One prototype operational system for providing timely information about the effects of space weather is SET’s Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) system. ARMAS will provide the “weather” of the radiation environment to improve aircraft crew and passenger safety. Through several dozen flights the ARMAS project has successfully demonstrated the operation of a micro dosimeter on commercial aviation altitude aircraft that captures the real-time radiation environment resulting from Galactic Cosmic Rays and Solar Energetic Particles. The real-time radiation exposure is computed as an effective dose rate (body-averaged over the radiative-sensitive organs and tissues in units of microsieverts per hour); total ionizing dose is captured on the aircraft, downlinked in real-time via Iridium satellites, processed on the ground into effective dose rates, compared with NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) most recent Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation System (NAIRAS) global radiation climatology model runs, and then made available to end users via the web and smart phone apps. We are extending the dose measurement domain above commercial aviation altitudes into the stratosphere with a collaborative project organized by NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center (AFRC) called Upper-atmospheric Space and Earth Weather eXperiment (USEWX). In USEWX we will be flying on the ER-2 high altitude aircraft a micro dosimeter for effective dose rate measurements and a thermal neutron monitor to characterize Single Event Effects (SEEs) in avionics. In this presentation we describe recent ARMAS and USEWX advances that will ultimately provide operational users with real-time dose and dose rate data for human tissue and avionics exposure risk mitigation.