Brian Wood and J.R. Dennison

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Satellites and other spacecraft must be able to withstand hazardous conditions in order to be viable in their expected operating environments. One specific hazard that occurs due to incident radiation is spacecraft charging. Insulating materials, frequently used in spacecraft and other electrical equipment, while very good at preventing charge flow, also store charge very well. This can create problems; specifically, “if the charge decay time exceeds the orbital period, not all charge will be dissipated before orbital conditions act again to further charge the satellite. As the insulator accumulates charge, the electric field will rise until the insulator breaks down” [1]. Thus, understanding the mechanisms that dictate conductivity, or how charge flows, in insulating materials is of critical importance for determining spacecraft charging effects with these materials.

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