NASA Experiment Aims for Failure
NASA has had its share of failures in the past few years, and with any luck that won't change with its Space Radiation Electronics Testbed launched into orbit last November. The goal of the experiment, based at the agency's Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala., is to gauge how space radiation contributes to the failure of advanced off-the-shelf microelectronic components. The experiments onboard include a two-part study measuring the effects of enhanced proton displacement, single-event transients and total ionizing dose/displacement damage on commercial optocoupler devices used to bridge gaps between incompatible wire communications systems. Many of the components are identical to those on the Hubble Space Telescope.
Results from the tests will contribute to the durability of components used in space applications, while helping to reduce their cost, weight, power requirements and production time. The researchers plan to publish the results in the spring of 2002.
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