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Paper: Shelter from the Storm: Protecting the Chandra X-ray Observatory from Radiation
Volume: 281, Astronomical Data Analysis Software and Systems XI
Page: 132
Authors: Cameron, Robert A.; Morris, David C.; Virani, Shanil N.; Wolk, Scott J.; Blackwell, William C.; Minow, Joseph I.; O'dell, Stephen L.
Abstract: NASA's Chandra X-ray Observatory was launched in July 1999, and the first images were recorded by the ACIS x-ray detector in August 1999. Shortly after first light, degradation of the energy resolution and charge transfer efficiency in the ACIS CCD detectors was observed, and this was quickly attributed to cumulative particle radiation damage in the CCD's, in particular from 100 keV to 200 keV protons. Since the onset of this radiation damage to ACIS, several improvements have been made to autonomous Chandra operation and ground-based operations and mission planning, to limit the effects of radiation while preserving optimum observing efficiency for the Observatory. These changes include implementing an automatic science instrument radiation protection system on Chandra, implementing a real-time radiation monitoring and alert system by the Science Operations Team, and improving the radiation prediction models used in mission planning for the Observatory. These satellite- and ground-based systems provide protection for Chandra from passages through the Earth's trapped radiation belts and outer magnetosphere and from flares and coronal mass ejections from the Sun. We describe the design and performance of the automatic on-board radiation protection system on Chandra, and the ground-based software systems and data products for real-time radiation monitoring. We also describe the development and characterize the performance of the Chandra Radiation Model (CRM), which provides predictions of the solar wind and magnetospheric proton fluxes along Chandra's orbit, indexed by the geomagnetic activity index, Kp. We compare the observed and predicted damage rates to ACIS based on net mission proton fluence, and outline planned enhancements to the CRM.
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