Aurora Flight Sciences wins NASA contract for charged particle spectrometer for manned space vehicles

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., 21 March 2009. Aurora Flight Sciences won a NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop a compact charged particle spectrometer for use in manned space vehicles. The instrument will employ angle-detecting inclined sensor (ADIS) technology to identify and quantify charged particles, hazardous to astronauts on extended spaceflights.

CAMBRIDGE, Mass., 21 March 2009. Aurora Flight Sciences won a NASA Small Business Innovative Research (SBIR) Phase I contract to develop a compact charged particle spectrometer for use in manned space vehicles.

The instrument will employ angle-detecting inclined sensor (ADIS) technology to identify and quantify charged particles, hazardous to astronauts on extended spaceflights. The type and rate of particles, such as protons and heavy ions can be measured, providing an accurate indication of the radiation dosage encountered by the crew.

The program is in collaboration with the Space Science Center (SSC) at the University of New Hampshire (UNH).

In Phase I, Aurora and UNH will evaluate techniques for modifying an existing ADIS instrument, designed for use on robotic missions, to meet the mass, volume, and safety requirements of a manned environment, such as NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV).

"Our goal is a compact, real-time device for measuring radiation hazards for humans in space, that meets the limited size, weight and power availability of the CEV or other space vehicles," says John Merk, Aurora's principal investigator for the program. The completion of Phase I will facilitate prototyping of a non-flight evaluation unit in Phase II, and a spaceflight-qualified version in successive program phases, says a representative.

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