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American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics

    Course Outline

    The Space Environment - Implications for Spacecraft Design


    Course Outline

    I.  Vacuum environment effects include materials degradation due to the solar UV and contamination.  Both molecular and particulate contamination are addressed and their effects on solar arrays, thermal control surfaces, and optical devices are examined.

    II.  The neutral atmosphere is described and quantified.  Mechanical interactions such as aerodynamic drag and sputtering are examined, as are chemical interactions such as spacecraft glow and atomic oxygen erosion.

    III. The plasma environment is described and quantified in low Earth orbit, polar orbits, and geosynchronous.  Spacecraft charging relations are developed and methods to estimate worst case charging are reviewed.  Arc discharging via dielectric breakdown or electrostatic discharge (ESD) is examined.

    IV.  The radiation environment due to the Van Allen radiation belts, solar particle events (SPEs), galactic cosmic rays (GCRs), or hostile environments are described.  Total dose effects such as solar array power loss or electronics degradation are examined as are single event effects such as upset, latchup, and burnout.

    V. The micrometeoroid and orbital debris environments are quantified and techniques to estimate the frequency and severity of hypervelocity impact damage are provided.