Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Effects and Controls/Spacecraft Charging

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) control is one of the key activities in electronics, avionics and spacecraft design. Design of ESD control for ground manufacturing facilities is also one of ZODIAC main areas of expertise. ZODIAC has extensive experience in ESD modeling, design of protective measures, as well as design and qualification of materials such as conductive coatings to prevent ESD. In orbit, ESD can be caused by multiple sources that result from the interaction of spacecraft with in orbit plasma environments, both natural and man-made.

Natural environments that can cause on-orbit ESD include space plasma environment of various densities specific to Geosynchronous Orbit (GEO) or Low Earth Orbit (LEO)

Man-made environments include electric-propulsion-generated plasma plumes

  • Hall Current Thrusters (HCT)
  • Arcjet Thrusters (AJT)

Hardening approaches to mitigate spacecraft charging effects include utilization of conductive surface coatings for dielectrics, thermal blankets, solar cell cover glasses, conductive paint on graphite structures, utilization of Zener diodes and filters and providing ground and charge drains to structure for all surfaces