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Space radiation damage

An image depicting space radiation damage relevant to research with The Open University

The scientists in the Centre for Electronic Imaging and the Space Instrumentation Group at The Open University have been involved in the development of instruments for space applications for many decades. When a detector is launched into space it may encounter a very harsh radiation environment, from the high-energy protons that will bombard the detectors in ESA’s Euclid mission, to the electrons that will impact ESA’s JUICE mission on its voyage around Jupiter’s icy moons.

The radiation that hits the detector can cause irreparable damage to the silicon lattice of the detector itself, leading to a degradation of the images returned to us and having the potential to jeopardise the scientific goals of the mission. For this reason, research into the effect of radiation on the detectors is vital to the success of any space mission. Through a deep and thorough understanding of the impact of radiation damage, built up though detailed experimental test campaigns in conditions as close as possible to those experienced in orbit, we can find ways to operate the detectors to minimise the impact of the damage on the science goals of the mission and find ways to correct against this damage through post-processing. 

Our studentships offer the chance to work alongside experts towards one of several ESA and NASA missions due to be launched over the next decade.

Qualifications available:



For detailed information on current fees visit Fees and funding.

Entry requirements:

Minimum 2:1 (or equivalent) in physics, electronic engineering or a related subject.

Expressions of interest should normally be accompanied by an up-to-date CV.

Current/recent research projects

  • Development of an X-ray camera for the OGRE sounding rocket
  • Development of an imaging camera for UKube-1
  • Investigation of electron multiplying CCD technology for space astronomy
  • Radiation damage in scientific sensors for space
  • Development of CMOS imager for the JANUS camera on JUICE

Further information

If you have an enquiry specific to this research area please contact:

Administrative support
+44 (0)1908 858253

For general enquiries please contact the Research Degrees Team via the link under 'Your Questions' on the right of the page.