[Ground-station] Need some nuclear science help

Bruce Perens bruce at perens.com
Sat Jun 2 13:13:58 EDT 2018

We've recently heard proposals and seen some research regarding the use of
radiation shielding to make it possible to use consumer or industrial grade
parts rather than rad-hard ones. A cubesat called ShieldSat 1 flew to test
some of this. My mostly-innumerate grasp of atomic science tells me that
this can only go so far, and that when high-energy particles hit shielding,
you get a particle shower that is sometimes more harmful than the original
particle. But I don't have numbers.

The proposal is to use the outer layer of structural aluminum, and an inner
laminate of tantalum, titanium, and other dense materials with different
atomic numbers from each other. Using titanium directly as the structural
material, rather than aluminum, is possible; but it takes a more
sophisticated (and expensive) laser cutter, and it has to be heated to be
bent without cracking.

What I'd like to hear would be numbers for reasonable thicknesses of these
materials, and the degree to which they can, for example, make a
van-Allen-crossing orbit look like LEO.


Bruce Perens K6BP - CEO, Legal Engineering
Standards committee chair, license review committee member, co-founder,
Open Source Initiative
President, Open Research Institute; Board Member, Fashion Freedom
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