It is increasingly common for space agencies and aerospace companies to design space systems with commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components. The utilization of COTS is ubiquitous throughout various layers of space system architecture, including mission critical systems. This summary highlights some of the radiation hardness assurance issues for COTS.
The type of testing required is a function of the mission environment as well as the system performance requirements. For example, a satellite orbiting in LEO can have drastically different test needs. What's the orbit altitude and inclination? The spacecraft will generally experience higher trapped particle fluxes at higher altitudes and inclinations. Additionally, the spacecraft becomes more susceptible to galactic cosmic ray heavy ions and solar particles for polar orbits, because of the reduced protection from the geomagnetic field. Do the launch date and planned mission life occur during solar minimum or solar maximum? What are the mission's reliability targets and performance requirements? These parameters will set the thresholds for acceptable failure rate at the subsystem and part level. These are just some considerations that determine the type of radiation testing required.
Heavy ion, proton, and pulsed-laser testing needs have also increased in demand due to the growing significance of single-event effects (SEE) in microelectronics. Please check out the articles for each type of radiation testing below.
The SEE device response and testing techniques can be vastly different depending on the part type and technology. Below is a list of some test guidelines and lessons learned from NASA for some common part types in the industry (e.g. flash memory, FPGA, CCD, power MOSFET, voltage regulator & point-of-load).
Facility web links: