High-energy charged particles represent a severe radiation risk for astronauts and spacecrafts and could damage ground critical infrastructures related to space services. Different natural sources are the origin of these particles, among them galactic cosmic rays, solar energetic particles and particles trapped in radiation belts. Solar particle events (SPE) consist in the emission of high-energy protons, alpha-particles, electrons and heavier particles from solar flares or shocks driven by solar plasma propagating through the corona and interplanetary space. Ground-level enhancements (GLE) are rare solar events in which particles are accelerated to near relativistic energies and affect space and ground-based infrastructures. During the current solar cycle 24 a single GLE event was recorded on May 17th, 2012 associated with an M5.1-class solar flare.
The investigation of such a special class of solar events permits us to measure conditions in space critical to both scientific and operational research. This event, classified as GLE71, was detected on board the International Space Station (ISS) by the active particle detectors of the ALTEA (Anomalous Long Term Effects in Astronauts) experiment. The collected data permit us to study the radiation environment inside the ISS. In this work we present the first results of the analysis of data acquired by ALTEA detectors during GLE71 associated with an M5.1-class solar flare. We estimate the energy loss spectrum of the solar particles and evaluate the contribution to the total exposure of ISS astronauts to solar high-energy charged particles.