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Proceedings of the 6th Spacecraft Charging Technology Conference

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A sample of oxidized aluminum was placed inside an ultra-high vacuum (UHV) chamber alongside a piece of PTFE (Teflon®) coated wire and continuously bombarded with 1-3 keV electrons for ~30 hours. The SE yield of the surface was monitored as a function of time throughout the electron bombardment. Oxidized aluminum was chosen as a typical material comprising spacecraft surfaces, while outgassing of the Teflon wire contaminated the UHV environment, simulating the microenvironment surrounding an operating spacecraft. Continuous electron bombardment resulted in two effects—( i) the removal of the oxide layer, and (ii) the deposition of a thin (~1 nm-thick) layer of carbon contamination—duplicating the surface effects of other processes known to occur in Earth orbit.

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