Radiation Hardness Assurance

System Level Radiation Characterization of a 1U CubeSat at the CHARM facility at CERN


Raffaello Secondo
CERN, Geneva, Switzerland


Nanosatellites are increasingly attractive for space research and commercial applications. The success of a mission is highly dependent on the qualification process at system and component level, with requirements of reduced power, low cost, small dimensions and tolerance to radiation fields. As a result, the validation procedure is time consuming and involves tests at several ground facilities.

An alternative qualification methodology for high radiation environment applications has been studied at the CERN High energy AcceleRator Mixed field facility (CHARM) [1]. The test facility allows to reproduce environments representative of the Low Earth Orbit (LEO) space, atmospheric and high energy particle accelerators. The CERN Latchup Experiment and STudent sAtellite (CELESTA) project has been proposed as a 1U CubeSat mission based on the CERN Radiation Monitoring technology, to benchmark radiation fields measured in flight with experimental data collected at CHARM [2].

A Payload board has been developed as a stand-alone dosimetry module, based on the CERN Radiation Monitoring (RadMon) technology [3], and coupled with a latchup experiment. The CubeSat, featuring the Payload and the On-Board Data Handling modules, has recently been successfully tested at CHARM. Results provided a deep understanding of the impact of radiation failures on the system, thus giving insight on the qualification of the nanosatellite with respect to the mission constraints and ultimately highlighting the critical aspects of the design related to radiation.


[1] J. Mekki, M. Brugger, R. G. Alia, A. Thornton, N. C. D. S. Mota, and S. Danzeca,
“CHARM: A Mixed Field Facility at CERN for Radiation Tests in Ground, Atmospheric, Space and Accelerator Representative Environments,” IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, vol. 63, no. 4, pp. 2106–2114, Aug. 2016.

[2] R. Secondo, P. Peronnard, M. Brugger, S. Danzeca, E. Chesta, A. Masi, R. Garcia Alia, A. Merlenghi, L. Dusseau, M. Bernard, J.R. Vaillé, “A Nanosatellite Radiation Qualification Procedure At The CHARM Facility Based On The CELESTA Payload Demonstrator,” in Proc. of ESA 4S Symposium 2016, Malta, 2016.

[3] G. Spiezia, P. Peronnard, A. Masi, M. Brugger, M. Brucoli, S. Danzeca, R.G. Alia, R. Losito, J. Mekki, P. Oser, R. Gaillard and L. Dusseau, “A New RadMon Version for the LHC and its Injection Lines,” IEEE Transactions on Nuclear Science, vol. 61, no. 6, pp. 3424–3431, Dec. 2014.