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The University of Southampton

ELEC6248 Electronics for Spacecraft

Module Overview

This module will be first offered in the 2020/21 academic year. This module looks at the specific and somewhat unique requirements for electronics on spacecraft such as, radiation effects, other environmental hazards, e.g. space debris, atomic oxygen, low energy and high energy plasma (spacecraft charging and arcing). It will also address some of the key issues involved in using electronic parts in space including the design for the thermal environment (e.g. no convection), mass and volume constraints and the use of COTS. Future developments like miniaturisation (cubesats, microsats) and the use of MEMS in the space environment will be presented as well. The overall objective will be to introduce the students to the peculiarities of using electronics in space and how these drive the designs and influence the choice of the components selected.

Aims and Objectives

Learning Outcomes

Knowledge and Understanding

Having successfully completed this module, you will be able to demonstrate knowledge and understanding of:

  • The requirements of electronics used in spacecraft.
  • How electronic components are selected to allow them to operate reliably in the space environment.
Subject Specific Intellectual and Research Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • The key features of the space environment and how it affects electronics.
  • How to design for the thermal environment in space.
  • The effects of the radiation environment on electronics.
  • What types of electronics might be used in the future.
Transferable and Generic Skills

Having successfully completed this module you will be able to:

  • Study and learn independently.
  • Solve problems.


Overview of space environment and effect on electronics (4 lectures) - Radiation environments - Thermal environment Launch environment - Other environments (space debris, atomic oxygen, low energy plasma (spacecraft charging, arcing) Design for thermal environment (4 lectures) - Thermal modelling of spacecraft - Temperature requirements Thermal cycling and testing Radiation effects(12 lectures) - Total ionizing dose (TID) - Single event effects (SEEs) - Radiation shielding - Mitigation of SEEs (hardware,software) EEE parts (10 lectures) - Definition (electronic, electrical and electromechanical) - Screening/testing and reliability - Radiation Hardness Assurance Materials (Soldering and whiskers) - FPGAs for space - Standards(ECSS) - Radiation design margins - In-orbit monitors and testing The future (4 lectures) - Use of COTs - Miniaturisation - Use of MEMS in Space Revision lectures (2 lectures)

Learning and Teaching

Teaching and learning methods

Teaching methods include: - 36 lectures, including slide and video presentations, and example classes - Industry speakers Learning activities include: - Directed reading - Individual work to understand and master the course content, with the objective of successfully solving problems

Follow-up work18
Wider reading or practice66
Preparation for scheduled sessions18
Completion of assessment task2
Total study time150

Resources & Reading list custom-and-cots-components-for-space.html.

Elbuluk, M.; Hammoud, A.; Patterson, R. (16 June 2005). Power Electronic Components, Circuits and Systems for Deep Space Missions. Power Electronics Specialists Conference. , pp. 1156 - 1162.



MethodPercentage contribution
Final Assessment  100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%


MethodPercentage contribution
Set Task 100%

Repeat Information

Repeat type: Internal & External

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