Satellite anomalies and electrostatic surface discharges.
Wong, Yan Chun.
Olsen, Richard C.
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Various aspects of the space environment can cause on-orbit satellite anomalies. Studies have shown that adverse interactions between the natural space environment and space systems can have deleterious consequences comparable to those caused by human or design errors. Electrostatic surface discharge (ESD), electron caused electromagnetic pulse (ECEMP), and single event upset (SEU) are the three most common anomaly producing mechanisms in space systems. The plasma environment, such as in geosynchronous orbit, can cause differential charging of satellite components and lead to ESD's on satellite surfaces. By using the Spacecraft Anomaly Manager (SAM) software package, spacecraft anomaly data of operational satellites contained in the database of National Geophysical Data Center (NGDC) were analyzed. The analysis concluded that ESD is directly related to geomagnetic storm activity and ESD related anomalies are local time and seasonal dependent. Proper engineering solutions should be integrated into satellite designs to prevent ESD from causing anomalies. This can be done effectively on multi-satellite programs such as GPS. Active charge control is recommended for DoD satellites which cannot tolerate functional anomalies due to ESD's, and on the first flight of new satellite designs. Passive engineering solutions should be integrated into satellite designs.
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