Advanced Space Particle Detectors for Microsatellites

Period of Performance: 03/23/2000 - 01/23/2001


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Physical Sciences, Inc.
Principal Investigator


Physical Sciences Inc. (PSI) proposes a small, innovative, lightweight, multi-configuration sensor to monitor the lower energy (0.5 to 1000 keV) charged particle environment in the magnetosphere and the solar wind. We will develop a sensor that is compatible with the weight, volume, and power requirements of nanosatellites. The PSI sensor design does not rely upon a magnetic sector to discriminate between particle types; rather it takes advantage of the cross-section characteristics of different particles and scintillator properties to discriminate. We will use thin films of metals and plastic scintillators to create particle-specific detectors. The detectors are fiber-optically coupled to a position sensitive-photomultiplier tube. The result is a tremendous savings in weight and volume. Commercial applications include the sale of flight sensors for dedicated space weather monitoring, or as piggyback sensors on future government satellites. A simplified sensor could be marketed to commercial satellite vendors as part of an on-board, real-time alarm of geomagnetic disturbances. These data would be a great value to the government agencies tasked with reporting and forecasting space weather conditions, such as NOAA and the AF 55th Space Weather Squadron.