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  • Satellite Effects of Space Weather
  • Space radiation effects

Space radiation effects

  • As related in the Introduction, the discovery of the trapped radiation around Earth immediately implied that the space environment would not be benign for any communications technologies that might be placed within it. Some 200 or so in-use communications satellites now occupy the geosynchronous orbit. The charged particle radiation (over the entire range of energies) that permeates the Earth’s space environment remains a difficult problem for the design and operations of these and other space-based systems [e.g., Shea and Smart, 1998; Koons et al., 1999]. A textbook discussion of the space environment and the implications for satellite design is contained in Tribble [1995].The low energy (few eV to few keV) plasma particles in the Earth’s magnetosphere plasma can be highly variable in time and in intensity levels, and can produce different levels of surface charging on the materials (principally for thermal control) that encase a satellite [Garrett, 1981]. If good electrical connections are not established between the various surface materials, and between the materials and the solar arrays, differential charging on the surfaces can produce lightning-like breakdown discharges between the materials. These discharges can produce electromagnetic interference and serious damage to components and subsystems [e.g., Vampola, 1987; Koons, 1980; Gussenhoven and Mullen, 1983].Under conditions of enhanced geomagnetic activity, the cross-magnetosphere electric field will convect earthward the plasma sheet in the Earth’s magnetotail. When this occurs, the plasma sheet will extend earthward to within the geosynchronous (GEO)spacecraft orbit. When this occurs, on-board anomalies from surface charging effects will occur; these tend to be most prevalent in the local midnight to dawn sector of the orbit [Mizera, 1983].

- Space Weather Effects on Communications -