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Electrostatic Potential Generated by Rockets on Vehicles in Space

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1 Author(s)
Aronowitz, Leonard ; Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, Bethpage, N.Y

Investigators have reported the existence of electric current in the exhaust plumes of rocket engines and have speculated that this current could generate a sufficiently high electrostatic potential on vehicles in space to interfere with or damage electronic subsystems or instrumentation. This paper identifies the source of the observed current, calculates its magnitude as a function of the engine parameters, and demonstrates that the rocket plume itself can discharge a vehicle in space and prevent buildup of dangerous potentials.

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Electromagnetic Compatibility, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:EMC-10 ,  Issue: 4 )