Rapid Variations in Spacecraft Potential
Air Force surveys in geophysics
AIR FORCE GEOPHYSICS LAB HANSCOM AFB MA
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The increasing complexity and sophistication of synchronous orbit satellites has resulted in a corresponding increase in their susceptibility to anomalous behavior and disruption. Many of these problems can be attributed to the buildup of large potentials on various surfaces of the satellites in response to the ambient space plasma. Such large potentials as great as -20,000 V relative to the ambient plasma can produce anomalies and disruptions by causing arcing between the surfaces. In this report, the question of the time rate of change of satellite potential is studied. Theory and observations are reviewed to give estimates of the time rate of change in potentials encountered at synchronous orbit. A clear need for future study is indicated. Plans for instrumentation being developed at AFGL to study the area are discussed.
- Atmospheric Physics