"The Effects of Radiation Events on Gravity Probe B"

Brandon D. Owens, Michael E. Adams, William J. Bencze, Gaylord Green, and Paul Shestople
Stanford University


This paper contains a comprehensive review of the major radiation events that Gravity Probe B encountered during its primary mission.  These events, which included a spate of multiple bit upsets, a stuck bit, and slight pointing errors in the South Atlantic Anomaly, were among the most difficult issues handled by the mission operations team.   Much was learned in the correction of these problems and is presented here for the benefit of future missions.   The overall impacts of these events on the mission along with the conditions leading up to them are detailed.  Workarounds developed in response to these events are discussed, comparisons are drawn with similar occurrences on other satellite missions, and recommendations are made for future designs.


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