Module code: EEEM057

Module Overview

Expected prior learning:  Knowledge equivalent to BEng/BSc in physics or engineering, or equivalent learning.

Module purpose:  Engineers and scientists in the space industry need a sound appreciation of the hostile and challenging space environment which includes electromagnetic and particle radiation, space weather, plasmas, ultra-high vacuum and thermal extremes. Through a series of lectures and exercises this module gives students an understanding of the space environment, how it affects engineering systems (especially electronics and materials), all the key effects and how to protect against them. In order to illustrate the wider technical and industrial perspective, guest lectures by specialist practitioners in the field, for example, from the European Space Agency, Airbus, SSTL and OHB are normally provided.


Module provider

Electrical and Electronic Engineering

Module Leader

RYDEN Keith (Elec Elec En)

Number of Credits: 15

ECTS Credits: 7.5

Framework: FHEQ Level 7

Module cap (Maximum number of students): N/A

Overall student workload

Module Availability

Semester 2

Prerequisites / Co-requisites


Module content

Indicative content includes the following.

  • Overview of the module

  • Space environment

    • Discovery of the space environment

    • Cosmic rays, solar radiation, trapped particles (Van Allen belts), space plasma

    • Space weather, solar flares, energetic particle events, coronal mass ejections, fast wind streams

    • Electromagnetic radiation in space – gamma, X-rays, UV, visible, infra-red

    • Vacuum

    • Orbit dependence

    • Exo-atmospheric nuclear detonations

  • Space science, instruments and measurements

    • Environment and plasma missions, X-ray astronomy.

    • X-ray and gamma-ray detection, imaging and spectroscopic techniques: telescopes (e.g. Wolter type), Bragg spectrometers.

    • Particle detection e.g. particle telescopes

    • Other planets (e.g. Jupiter)

  • Thermal effects and design

    • Solar radiation

    • Black body radiation

    • Absorptivity and reflectivity

    • Thermal equilibrium and transients

    • Calculation and modelling methods, view factors, tools

    • Thermal control (MLI, heaters, paints, louvres, phase chage etc)

  • Radiation effects (on electronics and materials)

    • Ionising dose

    • Displacement Damage (including optical components such as CCDs)

    • Single Event Effects (SEE)

    • Electrostatic charging (surface and internal)

    • Effects on materials and components

    • Instrument noise

    • Engineering implications

  • Radiation protection engineering

    • Radiation transport and shielding

    • Radiation testing and facilities

    • Materials selection

    • Electronic component test and selection

    • Design margins

    • Circuit design approaches

    • Error detection and correction

    • Voting

  • Tools for radiation modelling

    • Dose-depth curves and usage

    • Sector shielding

    • 3D modelling dose modelling

    • Charging tools (e.g. DICTAT, SPIS)

    • On-line tools e.g. Spenvis, CRÈME-96/MC

  • Standards and methods

    • Systematic approaches

    • International standards

    • Satellite anomaly investigation

    • Web-based resources

  • Guest Lectures: e.g. ESA, SSTL, Airbus.


Assessment pattern

Assessment type Unit of assessment Weighting
Examination 2 HOUR CLOSED BOOK EXAM 100

Alternative Assessment

Not applicable: students failing a unit of assessment resit the assessment in its original format.

Assessment Strategy

The assessment strategy for this module is designed to provide students with the opportunity to demonstrate that they have achieved the intended learning outcomes. A written closed-book exam will be undertaken and questions will be set to assess:

·         the student’s overall comprehension of space environment and protection,

·         analytical skills when presented with space environment information or data,

·         problem-solving skills in the field

·         ability to propose and design protection solutions and justify their choice


Thus, the summative assessment for this module consists of the following.

·         2 hour closed book written examination.


Any deadline given here is indicative. For confirmation of exact dates and times, please check the Departmental assessment calendar issued to you.


Formative assessment and feedback

For the module, students will receive formative assessment/feedback in the following ways.

·         During lectures, by question and answer sessions

·         During tutorials/tutorial classes

·         By means of unassessed tutorial problem sheets (with answers/model solutions)



Module aims

  • an overview of the space environment and how it is specified, measured and monitored;
  • an understanding of the effects caused on engineering systems;
  • an appreciation of the various mitigation methods and tools;
  • the ability to apply this knowledge to practical applications.

Learning outcomes

Attributes Developed
1 The space environment and its effects and how to implement protection measures against these effects. K
2 Comprehend the space environment specification provided in satellite and equipment specifications C
3 Analyse and calculate the effects of space environments C
4 Select and use suitable methodologies e.g.  analytical and computer tools C
5 Design appropriate mitigation approaches and demonstrate their validity C

Attributes Developed

C - Cognitive/analytical

K - Subject knowledge

T - Transferable skills

P - Professional/Practical skills

Methods of Teaching / Learning

The learning and teaching strategy is designed to achieve the following aims.

  1. Learning through regular lectures from week 1 to 10. These lectures will include problem solving exercises, enquiry based learning, research-led teaching and in-class discussions.

  2. Provision of lectures notes.

  3. Provision of case studies and associated discussion.

  4. Prepare for summative assessment through intensive in-class revision session.


Learning and teaching methods include the following.

Teaching is by lectures and tutorials. Learning takes place through lectures, tutorials, and exercises. 3 hours of lectures/tutorials per week for 10 weeks


Indicated Lecture Hours (which may also include seminars, tutorials, workshops and other contact time) are approximate and may include in-class tests where one or more of these are an assessment on the module. In-class tests are scheduled/organised separately to taught content and will be published on to student personal timetables, where they apply to taken modules, as soon as they are finalised by central administration. This will usually be after the initial publication of the teaching timetable for the relevant semester.

Reading list
Upon accessing the reading list, please search for the module using the module code: EEEM057

Programmes this module appears in

Programme Semester Classification Qualifying conditions
Space Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering with Space Systems MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electrical and Electronic Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering MEng 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module
Electronic Engineering with Professional Postgraduate Year MSc 2 Optional A weighted aggregate mark of 50% is required to pass the module

Please note that the information detailed within this record is accurate at the time of publishing and may be subject to change. This record contains information for the most up to date version of the programme / module for the 2020/1 academic year.