675.621.8VL - Space Environment and Effects

Space Systems Engineering
Fall 2023


This course will introduce and explore analysis, design, and verification methods for the space environment in general and radiation and plasma environments in particular. Intended as a practical complement to 675.751, Space Weather and Space Systems, this course will focus on mission requirements definition, design features, analyses and ground testing, state-of-the-art engineering models / tools, and national / international standards associated with the design and operation of modern high reliability space systems. Design and operational impacts will consider Total Ionizing Dose (TID), Total Non-Ionizing Dose (TNID), Single Event Effects (SEE), spacecraft charging, material outgassing, atomic oxygen, and Micrometeoroids / Orbital Debris (MMOD). All phases of a program lifecycle will be discussed – from environment definition through operational anomalies and anomaly attribution. Lectures, journal reading, and homework assignments will prepare engineers to quantify and assess risk as well as mitigate space environmental effects. A final project will consider a more detailed analysis of a system of interest to the student.


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Michelle Donegan

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Justin Likar

Course Structure

The course materials are divided into modules which can be accessed by clicking  Modules on the left menu. A module will have several sections including the overview, content, readings, discussions, and assignments. You are encouraged to preview all sections of the module before starting. Most modules run for a period of seven (7) days, with exceptions noted in the Course Outline. You should regularly check the Calendar and Announcements for assignment due dates.

Course Topics

Course Goals

To gain understanding of the space environment and its impacts on space systems. To gain both contextual information and practical skills in requirements definition and design for the space environment, as well as the methods and standards for modeling, analysis, and test. To apply this knowledge to generate the fundamental work products of the space environmental effects engineer and in the broader systems engineering context.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)


This course does not have a required textbook.

The following text that you may have from previous courses may be useful for this course: Wertz, James R. (2011). Space mission engineering: The new SMAD. Microcosm, Inc. ISBN-13: 978-1-881883-15-9 ISBN-10: 1-881883-15-9.

Required Software

You will need access to a recent version of MATLAB. A license is provided at no cost to you, through JHU. Visit the JHU IT Services Portal. Log in with your JHED ID and type “Matlab” in the search bar. Click on “Matlab for Students” in the search results and follow the instructions provided.

You will also need a software package called "OMERE" for certain assignments. This software is free and downloadable, and instructions will be provided when it is first needed.

Student Coursework Requirements

It is expected that each module will take approximately 7.5–10.5 hours per week to complete. Here is an approximate breakdown: doing the assigned reading texts (approximately 2–3 hours per week), attending the lectures (approximately 2.5 hours per week), homework assignments (approximately 3–4 hours per week), and participating in online discussions (up to 1 hour per week).

This course will consist of the following basic student requirements:

Weekly Assignments (40% of Final Grade Calculation)
Each module (except for the final module) will include a graded assignment that you will complete individually. Weekly assignments will vary depending on module learning objectives, but will generally include a quantitative component requiring you to work with environmental or component data as well as short (paragraph length) essay-type questions. Each assignment includes specific instructions and a grading rubric for how your work will be evaluated. If you find areas where our instructions are unclear, please let us know right away so we can clarify for the class. The assigned readings are intended to aid your understanding of material presented in class as well as inform the assignments. Reading is assigned from a variety of sources including published papers, book chapters, and short course materials, and will be linked from the course website. All assignments are due according to the dates in the Calendar. Late submissions will be reduced by one letter grade for each week late (no exceptions without prior coordination with the instructors). If, after submitting a written assignment you are not satisfied with the grade received, you are encouraged to redo the assignment and resubmit it. If the resubmission results in a better grade, that grade will be substituted for the previous grade.

Weekly Discussions (10% of Final Grade Calculation)
We intend for discussion to occur during the class and will leave time for student questions and resulting discussion. In addition, we will provide weekly opportunities for asynchronous discussion via Microsoft Teams. Your discussion grade will be based on both formats, and there is not a specific target for percentage of your engagement that occurs in-class vs. asynchronously. Discussion for this class is not intended to be formal; we are looking for student engagement, effort, and interaction with each other. We want to encourage you to ask whatever questions you need to gain understanding of the material. We understand that students will have a wide variety of backgrounds and subscribe to the idea that “the only dumb question is the one that you don’t ask.” When participating in asynchronous discussions, please be detailed in your postings and in your responses to your classmates' postings. Feel free to agree or disagree with your classmates. Please ensure that your postings are civil and constructive. We will monitor module discussions and will respond to some of the discussions as they are posted.

Final Project (50% of Final Grade Calculation)
A course project will be assigned several weeks into the course. The last week will be devoted to presentations of your course projects. Many of the weekly assignments will feed into elements of the final project. You will work in small teams (2-3 per team) and generate “contract deliverables” in form of report(s) and presentation(s). The final presentation will be made to the class as well as a small number of Subject Matter Experts. The project will enable you to take a notional satellite design to a point in the Systems Engineering lifecycle between PDR and CDR. The grading elements of the final project are as follows, expressed as percentages of the final course grade: 1. Creation of abbreviated radiation and charging analysis documents (30%); 2. Final presentation summarizing findings (20%).

Grading Policy

Assignments are due according to the dates posted in your Canvas course site. You may check these due dates in the Course Calendar or the Assignments in the corresponding modules. We will post grades one week after assignment due dates.

We do not directly grade spelling and grammar. However, violations of the rules of the English language may make it difficult or impossible for us to understand the intended content of an assignment.

A grade of A indicates achievement of consistent excellence and distinction throughout the course—that is, conspicuous excellence in all aspects of assignments and discussion in every week. A grade of B indicates work that meets all course requirements on a level appropriate for graduate academic work. These criteria apply to both undergraduates and graduate students taking the course.

EP uses a +/- grading system (see “Grading System”, Graduate Programs catalog, p. 10).
100-98 = A+
97-94 = A
93-90 = A−
89-87 = B+
86-83 = B
82-80 = B−
79-77 = C+
76-73 = C
72-70 = C−
69-67 = D+
66-63 = D

Final grades will be determined by the following weighting:

Item% of Grade
Weekly Assignments40%
Weekly Discussion10%
Course Project50%

Course Policies

In general, assignments are individual in nature, but you are certainly welcome to discuss the underlying concepts and any process-related issues with your classmates. The final project will include a group-based aspect.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has become increasingly prevalent in academic settings. Our priority as instructors is not to outright ban the use of such tools, but rather to remind that we are looking for evidence of learning concepts taught in the course, thoughtful application of methods and tools, and originality of thought. If you choose to make use of ChatGPT or similar tools, please disclose that you did so, bear in mind that you are responsible for the quality and correctness of the work you turn in, and be aware that sometimes these tools can produce incorrect, misleading, plagiarizing, or outright false statements and references. The use of AI tools must not be counter to maintaining academic integrity; please feel free to discuss with the instructors if you're unsure.

Academic Policies

Deadlines for Adding, Dropping and Withdrawing from Courses

Students may add a course up to one week after the start of the term for that particular course. Students may drop courses according to the drop deadlines outlined in the EP academic calendar (https://ep.jhu.edu/student-services/academic-calendar/). Between the 6th week of the class and prior to the final withdrawal deadline, a student may withdraw from a course with a W on their academic record. A record of the course will remain on the academic record with a W appearing in the grade column to indicate that the student registered and withdrew from the course.

Academic Misconduct Policy

All students are required to read, know, and comply with the Johns Hopkins University Krieger School of Arts and Sciences (KSAS) / Whiting School of Engineering (WSE) Procedures for Handling Allegations of Misconduct by Full-Time and Part-Time Graduate Students.

This policy prohibits academic misconduct, including but not limited to the following: cheating or facilitating cheating; plagiarism; reuse of assignments; unauthorized collaboration; alteration of graded assignments; and unfair competition. Course materials (old assignments, texts, or examinations, etc.) should not be shared unless authorized by the course instructor. Any questions related to this policy should be directed to EP’s academic integrity officer at ep-academic-integrity@jhu.edu.

Students with Disabilities - Accommodations and Accessibility

Johns Hopkins University values diversity and inclusion. We are committed to providing welcoming, equitable, and accessible educational experiences for all students. Students with disabilities (including those with psychological conditions, medical conditions and temporary disabilities) can request accommodations for this course by providing an Accommodation Letter issued by Student Disability Services (SDS). Please request accommodations for this course as early as possible to provide time for effective communication and arrangements.

For further information or to start the process of requesting accommodations, please contact Student Disability Services at Engineering for Professionals, ep-disability-svcs@jhu.edu.

Student Conduct Code

The fundamental purpose of the JHU regulation of student conduct is to promote and to protect the health, safety, welfare, property, and rights of all members of the University community as well as to promote the orderly operation of the University and to safeguard its property and facilities. As members of the University community, students accept certain responsibilities which support the educational mission and create an environment in which all students are afforded the same opportunity to succeed academically. 

For a full description of the code please visit the following website: https://studentaffairs.jhu.edu/policies-guidelines/student-code/

Classroom Climate

JHU is committed to creating a classroom environment that values the diversity of experiences and perspectives that all students bring. Everyone has the right to be treated with dignity and respect. Fostering an inclusive climate is important. Research and experience show that students who interact with peers who are different from themselves learn new things and experience tangible educational outcomes. At no time in this learning process should someone be singled out or treated unequally on the basis of any seen or unseen part of their identity. 
If you have concerns in this course about harassment, discrimination, or any unequal treatment, or if you seek accommodations or resources, please reach out to the course instructor directly. Reporting will never impact your course grade. You may also share concerns with your program chair, the Assistant Dean for Diversity and Inclusion, or the Office of Institutional Equity. In handling reports, people will protect your privacy as much as possible, but faculty and staff are required to officially report information for some cases (e.g. sexual harassment).

Course Auditing

When a student enrolls in an EP course with “audit” status, the student must reach an understanding with the instructor as to what is required to earn the “audit.” If the student does not meet those expectations, the instructor must notify the EP Registration Team [EP-Registration@exchange.johnshopkins.edu] in order for the student to be retroactively dropped or withdrawn from the course (depending on when the "audit" was requested and in accordance with EP registration deadlines). All lecture content will remain accessible to auditing students, but access to all other course material is left to the discretion of the instructor.