Space Research Department

Head of the Department

Attila Hirn

Phone: +36 (1) 392 2291 

e-mail: hirn.attila@energia.mta.hu 

 

 

Centre for Energy Research (EK) is one of the research institutes having the biggest space heritage in Hungary. As a result, the number of space instruments or detectors made in EK or its predecessors and delivered to space on board geophysical rockets, satellites, interplanetary space probes, manned spacecraft and space stations is over 80.

The predecessor of the Space Research Department, the Space Electronics Group (later Space Dosimetry Research Group), was founded in 1970. In the past half century, parameters of micrometeorites and characteristics of the Earth's ionosphere were measured; solar wind parameters as well as the plasma around comet Halley and planet Mars were studied with the help of instruments developed by the researchers and engineers of the laboratory. Significant contribution was made to two scientific payloads on board Rosetta lander Philae, with which measurements were conducted on the surface of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. The Pille on-board thermoluminescent dosimeter (TLD) system developed by the institute is unique in the world. Since 1980, different generations of the instrument have been used on several Russian and US spacecraft and space stations, as well as for environmental dosimetry on the Earth. The latest version of the Pille system has been continuously operated as part of the service dosimetry system in the Russian segment since 2003. Pille is indeed an important contribution of Hungary to the largest international space laboratory of the world. Measurements were performed by the TRITEL three-dimensional silicon detector space dosimetry telescope in the Columbus module and the Russian segment of the ISS as well as on high-altitude stratospheric research balloons.

The Space Research Department employs passive detectors for the examination of cosmic radiation. Besides being compact and robust, these dosimeters allow inexpensive and reliable measurements. The detectors have been continuously in use on-board the ISS and the group has joined several international programs since February 2001. These missions cover the mapping of the spatial distribution of cosmic radiation: (BRADOS, SPD, DOSIS, DOSIS-3D) and radiobiological experiments (BioTrack, Phoenix). During the Matroshka project the dose distribution in the human body was measured by locating detectors in a dummy.  The detector systems on the Foton-M2, -M3, -M4 and Bion-M1 retrievable satellite support important biological dosimetry experiments. With the participation of university students, complex radiation measurement and dosimetry systems have been flown on board stratospheric research balloons (BEXUS–12, –14) and on a sounding rocket (REXUS–17) to perform dosimetry and space weather studies.

With the expected growth in higher altitude air flights as well as the start of commercial suborbital space flights in the near future, dosimetry measurements in the altitude range up to 200 km become increasingly important.  So do space weather studies, as space weather has significant effects on ground infrastructures, such as power grids and telecommunications. Space research activities at EK, therefore, have also shifted into these directions in the recent years. The RadMag instrument, developed in the Space Research Department, is a unique detector system capable of conducting simultaneous space radiation and magnetic field measurements. Moreover, the system will be capable of supporting on-board radiation effects technological experiments by providing dosimetry data and near real time information on the space radiation spectra. The European Space Agency (ESA) have expressed that there would be a need for such a compact instrument for the Distributed Space weather Sensor System (D3S) in the frame of its Space Safety programme. The in-orbit demonstration of the CubeSat version of the instrument is due in 2021 in the frame of the ESA GSTP 6.3 RADCUBE programme.

In recent years, a space research development laboratory and space test centre, audited by the European Space Agency, have been founded to provide test facilities also for domestic space industry, in accordance with ECSS space industry standards.

Webpage of the Space Research Department: http://spacedosimetry.com

The colleagues of the department