Strathclyde Radiation Testing Facility – SCAPA
20 Mar 2018
The Scottish Centre for the Application of Plasma-based Accelerators (SCAPA) research centre is a major initiative within the Scottish Universities Physics Alliance to use state-of-the-art laser laboratories, laser-driven plasma accelerators and radiation sources to conduct research focused on the development and application of next generation accelerator technology. It is accommodated within the University’s John Anderson building and comprises 1200 m2 of shielded area in three radiation bunkers with space for up to 7 programmable beamlines, laser labs, preparation labs and a control area. Its relevance to this study is that laser-plasma-accelerators (LPAs) can reproduce or mimic certain kinds of space radiation, for example the Van Allen belt radiation, with a much higher level of realism than current state-of-the-art techniques. A single LPA can be used to generate relativistic electron, proton, ion and photon beams in a wide parameter range either singly or all at the same time, with fully controllable energy and flux. For example, broadband electron energies up to many 100's of MeV are possible, which is a unique avenue towards reproduction of the broadband spectral flux to be encountered on Jovian missions in the JUICE (JUpiter ICy moons Explorer) context. The high fluxes and the feasible exponential-energy, multi-component radiation make it possible to test a whole variety of components at the same time, and if required under different viewing angles, decreasing substantially the costs as well as the time consumption of these tests. After some seed funding from ESA, SCAPA is currently engaging with the UK community, including major institutions such as NPL and RAL’s CLF, aiming at bringing the plasma accelerator and space radiation community together. The vision is to establish, in collaboration with ESA and UKSA, an advanced, flexible testing environment for the UK and European space radiation testing community at the SCAPA beamlines.