Successes and challenges of operating the Van Allen Probes mission in the radiation belts
The Van Allen probes team has been successful in monitoring and trending the performance of the mission to date. However, operating two spacecraft in the Van Allen radiation belts poses a number of challenges and requires careful monitoring of spacecraft performance due to the high radiation environment and potential impact on the mostly single string electronics architecture. Spacecraft and instrument telemetry trending is tracked with internal peer reviews conducted twice a year by the operations and engineering teams. On board radiation monitoring sensors are used to evaluate total dose accumulated on board the spacecraft and to assess potential impacts. Single event upsets are tracked and high activity events are logged and analyzed. Anomalous data is compared to radiation and solar event activity to determine if there is correlation. Solar array degradation is monitored in real time using a dedicated monitored solar cell and performance is compared to predicted degradation rates. Examples of the effects of radiation on various subsystems and instruments will be given and the impacts discussed as the Van Allen probes team prepares to take on the challenge of an extended mission of continued operations in the radiation belt.
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Big Sky, MT