CERN specialists have launched the CELESTA cubesat (CERN latchup-radmon experiment student satellite) into space. This satellite is designed to study the effects of cosmic rays on the operation and performance of microchips.
“If CELESTA is successful, then Space RadMon can be adapted by us to work inside microsatellites. These are used now to make communication probes. This will enable us to evaluate their condition and forecast when replacements will be needed .”, said Ruben Garcia Alia, a CERN researcher.
Last night, the satellite was launched into low-Earth orbit by a Vega-C rocket vehicle from the CSG launch location in French Guyana. CELESTA is a microsatellite and has the Space RadMon radiation sensor.
This instrument is a miniature version of the Large Hadron Collider’s ionizing radiation sensor. The scientists will use this device to measure the frequency at which charged particles hit the electronics of orbiting probes at an altitude of several hundred kilometers above the Earth’s surface.
The so-called inner Van Allen Belt is located in this area of near-Earth-space, according to physicists. It is one of the two areas in Earth’s orbit where electrons and high-energy prototons accumulate. They are “caught” within the Earth’s magnet field. Scientists will be able to quickly evaluate how charged particles enter satellites’ microchips by launching CELESTA.
Researchers hope that the data they gather will be used to develop systems that can estimate the radiation load on orbiting probes, and when they should be replaced. Aliya stated that fleets of communications satellites are particularly vulnerable due to their small size, and low cost.