As a radiation particle blasts through an electronic circuit, it leaves behind a trail of ions. The ions disrupt the flow of electricity in the circuit, causing the circuit to malfunction.
Click on image for full size
Original artwork by Windows to the Universe staff.
Radiation Can Damage Electronics
Radiation can damage electronic circuits. Radiation can also cause electronics to malfunction.
Radiation can damage the materials used in electronics over time. That can make the electronics wear out sooner. For example, solar panels used on spacecraft make less electricity as they get older. The radiation in space slowly degrades the solar panels.
Radiation can also disrupt the flow of electricity in electronic circuits. This can cause the electronics to send "phantom commands". It can also change the information stored in a computer's memory circuits.
The effect of radiation on electronics is a big deal for people who build spacecraft. Spacecraft use a lot of electronics. Spacecraft are also exposed to more radiation than most machinery on Earth.
Shop Windows to the Universe Science Store!
Our online store
includes issues of NESTA's quarterly journal, The Earth Scientist
, full of classroom activities on different topics in Earth and space science, as well as books
on science education!
You might also be interested in:
Satellites and robotic spacecraft are crucial to space exploration. They let us explore space without having to support life, and can travel longer, in more dangerous areas, and at lower risk than manned...more
Some materials give off radiation. We call those materials "radioactive". Radioactive materials are often dangerous to people and other living things. There are many different kinds of radioactive materials....more
When you switch on a light in your house, you are using the electrical power system. A power plant generates the electricity. Electrical power travels along wires to your house. The light switch channels...more
Transformers are devices used in electrical circuits to change the voltage of electricity flowing in the circuit. Transformers can be used either to increase the voltage (called "stepping up") or decrease...more
Transformers (sometimes called "voltage transformers") are devices used in electrical circuits to change the voltage of electricity flowing in the circuit. Transformers can be used either to increase the...more
PAH is the short name for "Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons". Thank goodness this molecule has a short name! These are long strings of carbon atoms which form a ring. (That accounts for the "cyclic" and...more
Acids are well known as substances capable of dissolving things. If you've ever gotten some battery acid on your clothes and had a hole develop in a couple weeks you'll know what we mean. In this regard,...more
Like an acid, a base is a substance capable of dissolving things. Here is a scientific explanation of what a base is: A base is a substance which accepts a proton from another species in a reaction. (Here,...more