Novel Radiation Shielding Material for Dramatically Extending the Orbit Life of Cubesats

materials and coatings
Novel Radiation Shielding Material for Dramatically Extending the Orbit Life of Cubesats (LAR-TOPS-250)
Z grade material for lightweight radiation shielding
The NASA Langley Research Center has developed an innovative radiation shield made by layering metal materials in the Z-shielding method. It is a new, low cost and easy to implement method to protect CubeSat electronic circuits from ionizing radiation found in Low Earth Orbits. It is estimated that this approach can extend the life of CubeSat electronics by an order of magnitude.

The Technology
A high density metal, such as tantalum or tungsten is coated onto thin aluminum sheet in precise ratios and thicknesses. The combined sheet is then easily formed into standardized enclosures compatible with CubeSat design and performance specifications.
Typical sheet of Z-Shield material prior to vault assembly Assembled into a cubesat, Shields-1. Image credit: NASA
  • Extends the effective life of typical CubeSat missions from 3 months to years
  • An 18x reduction of total ionizing dose and removal of internal charging effects
  • Increases return on investment made in CubeSat missions. They currently fail prior to orbital decay due to radiation damage
  • The vaults and material are compatible with CubeSat dimensions and the CubeSat dispensers

  • Cubesats and Smallsats where longer functional orbit life is desired
  • Medical Imagers where lighter weight shielding is desired
Technology Details

materials and coatings
LAR-19109-1 LAR-19109-1-CON LAR-19109-2-CON LAR-18586-1-CON LAR-18586-2-CON
Thomsen, al. NASA's State of the Art Small Spacecraft Technology, 2021. Section 6.4 Radiation Effects and Mitigation Strategies (
Stay up to date, follow NASA's Technology Transfer Program on:
facebook twitter linkedin youtube
Facebook Logo Twitter Logo Linkedin Logo Youtube Logo