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February 16, 2024

NTT's Cosmic Ray Barrier Technology Safeguarding Space Infrastructure

As the space industry continues to evolve, with a growing shift towards private sector involvement, there is a growing demand for equipment that is both low-cost and high-performance for use in space. A major challenge for mission planners is the failure of equipment due to cosmic rays, which pose a serious threat to the safe and secure operation of space infrastructure.

Cosmic rays are a general term for radiation that travels through space and strips electrons from the atoms and molecules with which it comes into contact. They range from particle radiation such as alpha rays, beta rays, neutron rays, and proton rays, to high-energy electromagnetic radiation such as gamma rays and X-rays. Exposure to cosmic rays increases the possibility that semiconductor devices used for equipment control and storage devices will malfunction—when the rays enter a semiconductor, they can cause reactions and ionization with internal silicon, producing an overload of electrons, which can then create unexpected currents and cause malfunctions.

NTT is contributing to the development of solutions in this area with its cosmic ray barrier technology. Designed to protect electronic equipment in space from the detrimental effects of cosmic rays, it works by generating electromagnetic barriers, which are strategically deployed to deflect the paths of cosmic rays, in particular those emanating from solar flares and other celestial events.

The core of NTT's technology is its ability to actively predict and respond to the incoming direction of cosmic rays. By simulating the trajectories of these rays, the system can efficiently position its barriers in the most effective orientation to offer maximum protection. This proactive approach ensures that electronic devices in space are shielded from the potentially damaging impacts of cosmic rays.

Looking ahead, NTT sees its cosmic ray barrier technology playing a crucial role in enabling safe and secure human activities in space. This could include its application in space data centers, as well as Moon and Mars bases, in doing so contributing to the ongoing efforts to make space more accessible and hospitable for human exploration and habitation. NTT's development of sustainable technology demonstrates its commitment to not just advancing space exploration, but also ensuring the long-term protection of Earth and beyond.

NTT—Innovating the Future of Space

Picture: Daniel O'Connor

Daniel O'Connor joined the NTT Group in 1999 when he began work as the Public Relations Manager of NTT Europe. While in London, he liaised with the local press, created the company's intranet site, wrote technical copy for industry magazines and managed exhibition stands from initial design to finished displays.

Later seconded to the headquarters of NTT Communications in Tokyo, he contributed to the company's first-ever winning of global telecoms awards and the digitalisation of internal company information exchange.

Since 2015 Daniel has created content for the Group's Global Leadership Institute, the One NTT Network and is currently working with NTT R&D teams to grow public understanding of the cutting-edge research undertaken by the NTT Group.