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Solar-Array Arcing Due to Plasma Created by Space-Debris Impact

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7 Author(s)
Fukushige, S. ; Dept. of Mech. Eng., Kyushu Inst. of Technol., Kitakyushu ; Akahoshi, Y. ; Watanabe, K. ; Nagasaki, T.
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A solar-array paddle has a high probability of a space-debris impact because it has a large area. The space-debris impact on the solar array causes not only mechanical damage but also electrical damage such as solar-array arcing through the local high-density plasma created by hypervelocity impact. In the worst case, Joule heating of the arcing carbonizes an insulation layer, and a permanent short-circuit path is created. This is permanent sustained arc (PSA). However, no PSA caused by space-debris impact in orbit has been reported. This paper evaluates the possibility of PSA caused by debris impact. Hypervelocity-impact tests on solar-array coupons in the condition of pseudopower generation were conducted. We ascertained that a space-debris impact can lead to PSA on the solar array.

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:36 ,  Issue: 5 )