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Laser-plasma-based space radiation reproduction in the laboratory

Hidding, B. and Karger, O. and Königstein, T. and Pretzler, G. and Manahan, G. G. and McKenna, P. and Gray, R. and Wilson, R. and Wiggins, S. M. and Welsh, G. H. and Beaton, A. and Delinikolas, P. and Jaroszynski, D. A. and Rosenzweig, J. B. and Karmakar, A. and Ferlet-Cavrois, V. and Constantino, A. and Muschitiello, M. and Daly, E. (2017) Laser-plasma-based space radiation reproduction in the laboratory. Scientific Reports, 7. ISSN 2045-2322

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Abstract

Space radiation is a great danger to electronics and astronauts onboard space vessels. The spectral flux of space electrons, protons and ions for example in the radiation belts is inherently broadband, but this is a feature hard to mimic with conventional radiation sources. Using laser-plasma-accelerators, we reproduced relativistic, broadband radiation belt flux in the laboratory, and used this man-made space radiation to test the radiation hardness of space electronics. Such close mimicking of space radiation in the lab builds on the inherent ability of laser-plasma-accelerators to directly produce broadband Maxwellian-type particle flux, akin to conditions in space. In combination with the established sources, utilisation of the growing number of ever more potent laser-plasma-accelerator facilities worldwide as complementary space radiation sources can help alleviate the shortage of available beamtime and may allow for development of advanced test procedures, paving the way towards higher reliability of space missions.