Understand the environment. Mitigate the risks.


what is space radiation?

Space has a hostile radiation environment that increases the risk of cancers in humans and malfunctions in spacecraft electronics. The types of space radiation of concern are:

  • Galactic Cosmic Rays from outside our solar system, generated by supernovae and other phenomena;
  • Solar Energetic Particles produced by the Sun during intense and sporadic bursts of activity; and
  • Trapped Radiation: energetic particles confined by Earth's magnetic field, usually comprising an inner belt of mostly high energy protons and an outer belt dominated by lower energy electrons and plasma.

Understanding the space radiation environment for a particular mission profile is becoming increasingly important. Commercial off-the-shelf electronic components that aren't resilient to space radiation are now prevalent. Longer duration missions to cislunar space, Mars, and beyond are placing astronauts at greater risk of radiation exposure.

AE9/AP9/SPM trapped radiation models

The AE9/AP9/SPM radiation belt and space plasma specification models were developed by the US Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) in collaboration with industry partners. They provide estimates of energetic particle flux along with uncertainties as percentiles.

Our Space Radiation API provides on-demand access to the AE9/AP9/SPM models, calculating omnidirectional flux at a point in a number of coordinate systems.

DLR galactic cosmic radiation model

The DLR model was developed by the Deutsches Zentrum für Luft- und Raumfahrt (The German Aerospace Center). It provides estimates of energetic particle flux, from protons through to Nickel ions. It is used as a source term for space radiation shielding calculations and is particularly important outside Earth's magnetosphere.

A description of the model can be found in the scientific article "A ready-to-use galactic cosmic ray model", Matthiä, Daniel, et al., Advances in Space Research 51.3 (2013).

Our Space Radiation API provides on-demand access to our implementation of the model, calculating flux for a given particle type and date.

diagram of the van allen belts aka trapped radiation fields - models of which can be accessed using our web apis
Image credits: NASA/JPL