Adapted from J. E. Mazur et al., Space Weather, 9 (2011), American Geophysical Union

ScienceShot: Miniature Radiation Meter

A wee sensor flight-tested onboard the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter offers a light, low-power option for measuring radiation from cosmic rays and other sources that can damage both astronauts' health and space-based hardware, a new study suggests. The device is barely larger than a dime, weighs less than a paperclip, and requires only 3 bits per second to transfer the data it collects. Yet its radiation measurements fall within a few percent of those made by a much larger instrument installed on the same probe that is 300 times as heavy and consumes 25 times more power, a team led by researchers at The Aerospace Corporation in El Segundo, California, reported 14 July in Space Weather. Spacecraft designers could incorporate the sensor into probes where size, power, and bandwidth are at a premium, the researchers say.

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