Spacecraft Single Event Environments at High Shielding Mass (HiMassSEE) - 08.23.18

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Spacecraft Single Event Environments at High Shielding Mass (HiMassSEE) measures space radiation interactions with spacecraft structure and shielding using several passive track detector technologies to provide a more accurate definition of International Space Station (ISS) payload accommodations, radiation transport model validation, and flight demonstration data on advanced microelectronics and chemical dosimeters.
Science Results for Everyone
Information Pending

The following content was provided by Steven Koontz, Ph.D., and is maintained in a database by the ISS Program Science Office.
Experiment Details

OpNom: HiMassSEE

Principal Investigator(s)
Steven Koontz, Ph.D., NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Brandon Reddell, Ph.D., NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
Hester Yim, NASA Johnson Space Center/EV5, Houston, TX, United States
Andrew Westfall, University of California, Berkeley, CA, United States
James Tour, Rice University, Houston, TX, United States
Alex Ignatiev, University of Houston, Houston, TX, United States
Robert Reed, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, United States
James Salzman, Texas Instruments
Mark Axelrod, Landauer Inc.
Rodrigo Devivar, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States
James Martinez, NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

NASA Johnson Space Center, Houston, TX, United States

Sponsoring Space Agency
National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)

Sponsoring Organization
Technology Demonstration Office (TDO)

Research Benefits
Information Pending

ISS Expedition Duration
May 2012 - March 2015

Expeditions Assigned

Previous Missions
Information Pending

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Experiment Description

Research Overview

  • Space radiation and secondary radiation caused by interaction of space radiation with spacecraft materials pose a significant possible hazard cause for the operation of contemporary and future high performance electronics on board the ISS and other future spacecraft. Increasing use of high atomic number elements in microelectronic devices increases the risk of high energy nuclear fragmentation products caused by collision of cosmic ray primary and secondary shower particles high Z elements in avionics components
  • The nature of the secondary radiation is to be assessed. The interaction of both primary and secondary space radiation with various metallic elements, state-of-the-art memory devices, and chemical dosimeter systems will be established. radiation transport model verification data applicable to high shielding mass environments will also be produced by the Spacecraft Single Event Environments at High Shielding Mass (HiMassSEE) flight experiment.
  • The research will help determine the effects of secondary radiation on the functioning of present and future advanced electronics that contain high atomic number elements utilized in high shielding mass environments on ISS. Further, this investigation will provide data for validation of space radiation transport codes used to predict space radiation effects in support of spacecraft avionics parts selection, design, and verification.


Spacecraft Single Event Environments at High Shielding Mass (HiMassSEE) aims to characterize the combined primary and secondary ionizing radiation environments in the high shielding mass environment on board the ISS. The project also strives to support the selection and verification of avionics and materials through the precise description of nuclear reactions induced by secondary particle showers inside the ISS.

The median shielding mass, where the HiMassSEE experiment is located, is estimated to be between 20 and 50 g/cm2 Al equivalents. Radiation simulation software packages such as FLUKA and HZETRN2010 have been used to generate numerical models of the interaction of space radiation with the known shielding mass of the ISS. One of the major roles of the HiMassSEE experiment is to determine the accuracy of the FLUKA, HZETRN 2010, and other models with respect to specific kinds of in-flight radiation induced damage to selected materials and avionics components

Previously unexamined nuclear reactions of high Z elements which are induced by the combined primary and secondary spacecraft radiation environment are studied in this experiment. To achieve this, high linear energy transfer (LET) particles emitted from thin metal foils due to incident primary radiation are recorded in dielectric track-etch detectors for post flight laboratory analysis.

The HiMassSEE payload will also provide flight a demonstration of recently developed Fluorescence Nuclear Track Detectors (FNTD).

HiMassSEE determines the effects of the combined primary/secondary radiation environment on advanced technologies of practical interest. The advanced materials that are studied for radiation damage are nonvolatile ferroelectric RAM, graphene film nanoelectronic materials, chalcogenide RAM, magneto resistive RAM, rare-earth-element vanadate Quantum Dots, and metal oxide semiconductor (MOS) flash memory devices.

Texas Instruments microcontroller devices of programmatic interest to JSC ISS are also examined for radiation damage and for data retention of flash memory while unpowered.

Another study which involves a new concept in space radiation dosimetry is pursued. Radio-fluorescent dyes responsive between 1 and 1000 cGy (centi-Gray units) are measured by UV/VIS (ultraviolet and visible) spectroscopy before and after flight and compare it to ground-based controls. These dye solutions have the potential to act as low cost integrating radiation dosimeters.

Dilute aqueous solutions of ultra-high-molecular weight polymers (having low polydispersity) will be analyzed before and after flight as well as against ground controls to test models of space radiation chain breaking, crosslinking, and functional group modifications. by reaction with radiation induced OH radicals in water.

Finally, any effects of high energy heavy nuclear reaction products (generated by space radiation primary and secondary particle interactions with lead foils) on thin carbon fiber composite materials samples by measurieng post flight mechanical properties against ground controls.


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Space Applications
Controlling the cost of space projects and programs while increasing mission success rates is essential for future manned and robotic interplanetary activities. While the International Space Station low-Earth orbit environment is somewhat less severe than the interplanetary environment, all the same space IR factors are present in low-Earth orbit so that the results of HiMassSEE can be extrapolated with confidence to in support of future lunar and planetary programs.

Earth Applications
Our present way of life depends on the successful operation of weather, communications, and defense satellites all of which are exposed to the damaging effects of space IR. HiMassSEE will provide data to support the design and development of more reliable and less costly spacecraft. In addition, commercial aircraft fly at high altitudes at which some exposure to space IR primary and secondary particles is expected. HiMassSEE data can also contribute to lower cost and more reliable avionics systems for commercial and military aircraft as well low cost radiation dosimetry devices for flight crews.

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Operational Requirements and Protocols
The payload is completely passive and requires no ISS power, telemetry, or thermal control services. The payload requires no crew time except for placement in the ISS US Lab ZSR locker at beginning of mission and retrieval/packaging for return after 3 to 5 years. All engineering physics data products are recovered by laboratory analysis of the payload after flight. HiMassSEE investigators must be notified if the HiMassSEE payload is relocated to another storage location before end of mission.

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Decadal Survey Recommendations

Information Pending

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Results/More Information

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Related Websites

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