Brian Wood, Don Rice, JR Dennison

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The Utah State University (USU) Materials Physics Group (MPG) is interested in the performance of Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) microcontrollers in space conditions. Microcontrollers are commonly used on CubeSats, small relatively inexpensive satellites that are flown in Low Earth Orbit (LEO) at altitudes of ~160 km-2000 km. There is a large area of interest in COTS microcontrollers because they provide a more cost-effective on-board computer for CubeSats. This experiment focused on the functionality of an ATmega328 microcontroller on an Arduino Uno board inside the MPG’s Space Survivability Test (SST) Chamber. A diagnostic program was used to try to detect radiation effects on the microcontroller, including both soft errors and permanent failures. ArduSats is the coined term for CubeSats that use Arduino boards for space flight [1]. Though ArduSats are typically used for educational purposes, the results from this research and proposed related tests could shed light on a CubeSat’s (particularly an ArduSat’s) ability to pursue extended space missions into more radiation intensive environments such as Geosynchronous orbits and lunar missions.

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