Numerical Simulations of Spacecraft Wake Charging
The outer region of the Earth’s ionosphere, where the earth’s magnetic field controls the motion of charged particles is called magnetosphere. Generally, the plasma properties in the magnetosphere are described by particle density and energy temperature. The plasma properties in the magnetosphere region are affected significantly by changes in latitude and altitude. The plasma environment in the orbits such as Low Earth Orbit (LEO) and Polar Earth Orbit (PEO) is characterized by high density (1010–1012 m−3) and low energy temperature (0.1–0.3 eV), because of the high energy auroral electron (1–10 keV) injection that leads to spacecraft wake charging effects.
A wake area where electrons and ions currents are different will be formed behind a spacecraft in LEO cold, dense plasma environment. The electrons, due to high spacecraft velocity, could accumulate in the wake area of spacecraft to form a high negative potential barrier. The wake effect will develop differential charging on the surface of a spacecraft. The surface potential mainly depends on the collection of the electrons and ion fluxes. Surface charging formed by the wake effect affects the safe operation of the low and middle orbit, especially polar orbit, satellites. In this paper the physical mechanism of wake charging effect is analyzed, Three-dimensional spacecraft computing model based on Particle In Cell (PIC) methods is established by using of Fontheim distribution model of hot electrons and taking account of the effects of the secondary electrons and photoelectrons. The wake charging potential distribution and its variation in time are also discussed.
KeywordsWake charging PIC (particle in cell) Numerical simulations
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