Research in Engineering and Aviation

Argus: Radiation Effects Modeling on a University Nanosat

August 2012

Author(s): Swartwout, M.A.

“Argus: Radiation Effects Modeling on a University Nanosat”, 26th Annual AIAA/USU Conference on Small Satellites, Logan, UT, 15 August 2012, Paper SSC12-VII-05.


The Air Force Research Laboratory’s University Nanosat Program (UNP) was established in 1999 to train students at dozens of universities in the space systems engineering process and provide space flight opportunities for a few. The NASA Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) program was established in 2010 to provide flight opportunities for dozens of university missions, but does not directly support student training. Then a curious thing happened: several UNP schools were selected for ELaNa launches. Then, a more curious thing happened: everyone thought that this was a great idea! This is a great idea, because: 1) it provides opportunities for more universities to fly relevant, reliable missions, and 2) it expands the pool of flight-capable universities to small schools. Argus, a space mission in development at Saint Louis University and Vanderbilt University is one such mission. Argus will improve the predictive modeling of the effects of space radiation on modern electronics by calibrating these models with experimental data produced by on-orbit devices. This paper describes the UNP and ELaNa programs, the opportunities for synergy, the Argus mission and spacecraft, and the ways in which the Argus program has benefited from these opportunities.