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Radiation analysis for EnVision’s VenSpec-H instrument

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BIRA-IASB is developing a Venus Spectrometer with High resolution (VenSpec-H) as part of the ESA EnVision mission to Venus. We have used the in-house developed Space Environment Information System (SPENVIS) to assess the impact of the space radiation environment on the VenSpec-H instrument.
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Proper assessment of any potential adverse effects is a vital part of the engineering process leading to the production of a spaceborne instrument. Besides thermal, stress and vibration tests, this also includes the evaluation of the impact of space radiation on its various components. It allows space engineers to anticipate problems that could disrupt the operation and possibly reduce the expected lifetime of the instrument.

Specify the energetic particle environment

We have used ESA’s SPENVIS system, developed at our institute, to specify the energetic particle environment that the EnVision spacecraft will encounter on its way to Venus.  

After quickly leaving the Earth magnetosphere, the spacecraft will be fully exposed to a constant flux of galactic cosmic rays and sporadic bursts of solar energetic particles originating from solar eruptions like  flares and coronal mass ejections. Without the shielding from Earth’s magnetosphere, these high energy particles (tens of MeV up to GeV) may easily penetrate through the skin of the spacecraft and damage the inside electronic devices if not sufficiently radiation hardened.

Study effects from those estimated particles

Subsequently, we have performed Monte Carlo simulations using the Geant4 Radiation Analysis for Space (GRAS) tool and simplified geometric models of the VenSpec-H instrument and its electronics box to study the short-term (e.g. single event effects) and long-term (total ionising and non-ionising radiation doses) effects from those estimated energetic particles.

For this preliminary analysis, we also modelled the spacecraft shielding as a hollow Aluminium sphere of 400 mm radius and 1 mm thickness that was placed around the instrument. A more detailed analysis can be performed at a later stage of the mission preparation when the design of the whole spacecraft would be completed.

Report to the engineering team

Finally, the information from our analysis was reported to the engineering team responsible for building VenSpec-H.

Having a better understanding of the potential radiation environment and expected effects, can help them in selecting the appropriate electronic parts for their instrument that can tolerate the amount and intensity of high energy particle radiation.


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Figure 2 caption (legend)
Geant4 simulation of the interaction of solar energetic protons (blue tracks) with the VenSpec-H instrument. The red and green tracks represent secondary electrons and neutrons respectively. A hollow Aluminium sphere was placed around the instrument to model the spacecraft shielding.
Figure 3 body text
Figure 3 caption (legend)
Geant4 simulation of the interaction of incident energetic protons (blue tracks) with the various components inside the VenSpec-H instrument. These interactions can generate secondary particles (red and green tracks) that could cause further damage to the instrument.
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