Session

Technical Session X: Mission Enabling Technologies 1

SSC10-X-7.pdf (3382 kB)
Presentation Slides

Abstract

Electrostatic discharge for polar low-Earth-orbit (LEO) spacecraft is a relatively new and unexplored issue. Discharge mechanisms for LEO spacecraft are significantly different from those encountered in high Earth orbits, and seemingly few designers of new, high-voltage small satellites are aware of the differences between the two environments. Polar-LEO spacecraft encounter both plasma-induced arcing risks (at equatorial latitudes) as well as differential surface charging risks (over auroral zones): two different issues that require very different design techniques to address. There do not appear to be any comprehensive guidelines in the open literature that polar-LEO spacecraft designers can use to avoid the potentially catastrophic risk or arcing in high-voltage satellites. The issue of spacecraft charging and electrostatic discharge (ESD) in the low-Earth orbit environment is discuessed, in the context of satellite power system design. Options for controlling spacecraft charging and for preventing trigger and sustained arcs between high-voltage conductors are presented. These guidlines have been used to size solar panels for the upcoming Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat)-a highly capable mission with relatively high power demand-which is used as a design example. It is concluded that ESD issues for polar LEO spacecraft are both challenging and subtle, and demand careful attention from engineers early in the design process.

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Aug 11th, 4:59 PM

Solar Array Arcing Mitigation for Polar Low-Earth Orbit Spacecraft

Electrostatic discharge for polar low-Earth-orbit (LEO) spacecraft is a relatively new and unexplored issue. Discharge mechanisms for LEO spacecraft are significantly different from those encountered in high Earth orbits, and seemingly few designers of new, high-voltage small satellites are aware of the differences between the two environments. Polar-LEO spacecraft encounter both plasma-induced arcing risks (at equatorial latitudes) as well as differential surface charging risks (over auroral zones): two different issues that require very different design techniques to address. There do not appear to be any comprehensive guidelines in the open literature that polar-LEO spacecraft designers can use to avoid the potentially catastrophic risk or arcing in high-voltage satellites. The issue of spacecraft charging and electrostatic discharge (ESD) in the low-Earth orbit environment is discuessed, in the context of satellite power system design. Options for controlling spacecraft charging and for preventing trigger and sustained arcs between high-voltage conductors are presented. These guidlines have been used to size solar panels for the upcoming Canadian Maritime Monitoring and Messaging Microsatellite (M3MSat)-a highly capable mission with relatively high power demand-which is used as a design example. It is concluded that ESD issues for polar LEO spacecraft are both challenging and subtle, and demand careful attention from engineers early in the design process.