1 00:00:00,000 --> 00:00:04,000 Narrator: It’s tough out there for a spacecraft. 2 00:00:04,000 --> 00:00:08,000 Hardware in space must brave an ocean of dangerous radiated 3 00:00:08,000 --> 00:00:12,000 particles. These particles can slowly wear on a spacecraft over time, 4 00:00:12,000 --> 00:00:16,000 hit once and cause a temporary problem, or short the system in a 5 00:00:16,000 --> 00:00:20,000 single blow. Whether a spacecraft is headed to the Moon – like the Artemis mission 6 00:00:20,000 --> 00:00:24,000 – or facing off with the Sun – like Parker Solar Probe, 7 00:00:24,000 --> 00:00:26,960 everything onboard must be checked for reliability before launch 8 00:00:26,960 --> 00:00:32,000 Megan Casey: Every part has to be tested, and that’s where our group comes in. We take the models and we 9 00:00:32,000 --> 00:00:36,000 figure out what the radiation environment looks like, and then we test based on that environment. 10 00:00:36,000 --> 00:00:40,000 and figure out whether the part will survive or not. 11 00:00:40,000 --> 00:00:44,000 Narrator: To improve our spacecraft and protect our hardware as it travels through space, 12 00:00:44,000 --> 00:00:48,000 NASA has the Space Environment Testbed mission or SET. 13 00:00:48,000 --> 00:00:52,000 Megan Casey: This is a mission where the whole point is radiation. 14 00:00:52,000 --> 00:00:56,000 Narrator: SET helps researchers to better understand and design for the potential radiation 15 00:00:56,000 --> 00:01:00,000 effects that await spacecraft. Mike Xapsos: It’s actually doing measurements of the radiation environment 16 00:01:00,000 --> 00:01:04,000 some measurements are actually counting individual particles as they come 17 00:01:04,000 --> 00:01:08,000 in and other measurements are actually taking account of 18 00:01:08,000 --> 00:01:12,000 what the cumulative effect of all these particles are. 19 00:01:12,000 --> 00:01:16,000 Narrator: All of space is a radiation environment, but the exact conditions will vary by destination. 20 00:01:16,000 --> 00:01:20,000 The Sun fires protons. 21 00:01:20,000 --> 00:01:24,000 Earth harbors swarms of protons and electrons. 22 00:01:24,000 --> 00:01:28,000 Jupiter does the same, but in greater concentration and at higher energy. 23 00:01:28,000 --> 00:01:32,000 And everywhere you go, there are heavier ions from galactic 24 00:01:32,000 --> 00:01:36,000 cosmic rays. No spacecraft passes 25 00:01:36,000 --> 00:01:40,000 through unaffected. More knowledge from SET means more efficient 26 00:01:40,000 --> 00:01:44,000 spacecraft designs. For example, less shielding may be necessary. 27 00:01:44,000 --> 00:01:48,000 Megan Casey: Right now we assume that all missions are going to have a shielding thickness 28 00:01:48,000 --> 00:01:52,000 - by shielding thickness, we mean how thick are the walls of the spacecraft 29 00:01:52,000 --> 00:01:56,000 or the instrument - and we assume they are going to be about a tenth of an inch. 30 00:01:56,000 --> 00:02:00,000 If we can get better models and we can more tightly refine what 31 00:02:00,000 --> 00:02:04,000 the radiation environment looks like, we can maybe thin those walls out. 32 00:02:04,000 --> 00:02:08,000 Narrator: Lighter, thinner spacecraft can create savings in cost and room on board. 33 00:02:08,000 --> 00:02:12,000 Mike Xapsos: We always need to improve our design of spacecraft because 34 00:02:12,000 --> 00:02:16,000 it will help us improve our instrumentation, make 35 00:02:16,000 --> 00:02:20,000 them less expensive to design, and give us more accurate measurements. 36 00:02:20,000 --> 00:02:24,000 Narrator: We expect there to be applications to help protect 37 00:02:24,000 --> 00:02:27,060 the hardware that will bring people to the Moon and beyond. 38 00:02:27,060 --> 00:02:32,000 Megan Casey: We will be able to ensure that humans and electronics and spacecraft 39 00:02:32,000 --> 00:02:34,440 and instruments – anything we are actually sending into space – will survive in the environment 40 00:02:34,440 --> 00:02:38,920 we are putting it in. Narrator: With SET, NASA can get ready 41 00:02:38,920 --> 00:02:40,940 to go farther. 42 00:02:40,940 --> 00:02:44,940 music 43 00:02:45,540 --> 00:02:50,700 music