This Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety – Dual Monitor (ARMAS DM) Phase II proposal addresses these engineering and science goals: i) be the first demonstration of a real-time COTS-based technology for regional ionizing-radiation monitoring at high altitudes using a long-duration balloon; ii) be a game-changing technology for global aviation safety; iii) aid human space exploration by helping specify the radiation environment consistently from the surface to high altitudes, i.e., a space tourism and avionics safety need; iv) provide observations for assimilation into the NASA NAIRAS radiation model now being applied to the International Space Station (ISS) radiation safety protocol; and v) enable a better understanding of the dynamic and variable radiation environment due to all sources by measuring both total ionizing dose and gamma-rays. Minimum success criteria have been defined for Phase II as continuous flight measurements of ARMAS dose for at least 2 weeks in the lower stratosphere below the Pfotzer-Regener maximum, in western North American longitudes, and with magnetic latitudes greater than 39 deg. ARMAS DM will use one World View Enterprises Stratollite balloon to host two radiation detection instruments. First, the ARMAS FM5 detector will be used to observe total ionizing dose from all sources and report it 24/7 real-time for the duration of the mission via Iridium satellite link. FM5 will fulfill the technology objective of this proposed work: show a pathway that demonstrates an ability to monitor the radiation environment for aerospace safety. Second, the GAMMA-RAD5 detector will be used for measuring gamma-rays and, with the FM5, will satisfy the basic science objective, i.e., identify variable gamma-rays above the GCR background as the potential source for shallow tissue cancers in crew and passengers. These two instruments will fulfill our mission success criteria for both a technology demonstration and enhanced science objectives.
This proposal supports NASA’s Grand Challenges for technological solutions that radically improve existing capabilities. A successful long duration radiation observation demonstration that identifies dynamic radiation will enable a system-level method for operational monitoring. It will provide data for assimilation into NASA’s NAIRAS model. Beneficiaries include air and space traffic management, which will require future predictive capabilities that are only possible with physics-based, data assimilative system such as NAIRAS plus ARMAS.
Astronauts, high-altitude pilots, frequent commercial flyers, and commercial space travelers will be able to obtain real-time radiation weather information for a small incremental cost. Using operational monitoring plus data assimilation, the information from our aviation radiation monitoring system can be integrated into global operational air and space traffic infrastructures for risk reduction.