6.3 Results from Global Measurements of Atmospheric Radiation on Aircraft

Wednesday, 25 January 2017: 9:00 AM
4C-2 (Washington State Convention Center )
W. Kent Tobiska, Space Environment Technologies, Pacific Palisades, CA; and D. Bouwer, J. Bailey, L. Didkovsky, K. Judge, S. Wieman, W. Atwell, B. Gersey, R. Wilkins, D. Rice, R. W. Schunk, D. Bell, C. J. Mertens, X. Xu, M. Wiltberger, S. Wiley, E. H. Teets Jr., P. Shea, D. Smart, B. Jones, G. Crowley, I. Azeem, and A. Halford

Space weather’s effects upon the near-Earth environment are due to dynamic changes in the energy transfer processes from the Sun’s photons, particles, and fields. Of the domains that are affected by space weather, the coupling between the solar and galactic high-energy particles, the magnetosphere, and atmospheric regions can significantly affect humans and our technology as a result of radiation exposure. Since 2013 Space Environment Technologies (SET) has been conducting observations of the atmospheric radiation environment at aviation altitudes using a small fleet of six instruments. The objective of this work is to improve radiation risk management in air traffic operations. Under the auspices of the Automated Radiation Measurements for Aerospace Safety (ARMAS) and Upper-atmospheric Space and Earth Weather eXperiment (USEWX) projects our team is making dose rate measurements on multiple aircraft flying global routes. Over 174 ARMAS and USEWX flights have successfully demonstrated the operation of a micro dosimeter on commercial aviation altitude aircraft that captures the radiation environment resulting from Galactic Cosmic Rays (GCRs), Solar Energetic Protons (SEPs), and outer radiation belt energetic electrons. The real-time radiation exposure is measured as an absorbed dose rate in silicon and then computed as an ambient dose equivalent rate for reporting dose relevant to radiative-sensitive organs and tissue in units of microsieverts per hour. ARMAS total ionizing absorbed dose is captured on the aircraft, downlinked in real-time, processed on the ground into ambient dose equivalent rates, compared with NASA’s Langley Research Center (LaRC) most recent Nowcast of Atmospheric Ionizing Radiation System (NAIRAS) global radiation climatology model runs, and then made available to end users. Dose rates from flight altitudes up to 56,700 ft. are shown for flights across the planet under a variety of space weather conditions.
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