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  • Research and Development of Means to Safeguard Spacecraft on-board Electronics Against Internal Charging Effects

Educational Programme
Final Grade
Year of Graduation
Ilia Agapov
Research and Development of Means to Safeguard Spacecraft on-board Electronics Against Internal Charging Effects
Computer Systems and Networks
(Master’s programme)
Master's thesis, performed by a team of three students (Agapov I., Ashmarin V. and Markov A.), is devoted to an in-depth analysis of the problem of internal electrification of spacecraft operating in geostationary or high-elliptical near-earth orbits. It is in such orbits that spacecraft (SC) are exposed to the high-energy plasma of the Earth’s magnetosphere, which leads to the penetration of plasma electrons through the body of the spacecraft and electronic blocks of onboard radioelectronic equipment directly to passive and active elements of electronic circuits. In this case, all conductor and semiconductor elements of the electronics of the spacecraft quickly acquire the potential of the spacecraft body, while dielectric elements exhibit slow relaxation to this potential. Moreover, the rate of this relaxation is directly proportional to their bulk conductivity.

If the volume conductivity of the dielectric element is small, then a significant potential difference is created between this element and the adjacent conductor (semiconductor), resulting in electrostatic discharges (ESD). Emerging ESDs lead to reversible and irreversible failures of the electronic components of the onboard electronic equipment of the spacecraft.

In this master's thesis, experimental studies have been performed, computer simulations have been carried out, and measures have been developed to protect the spacecraft's on-board electronics from the effects of internal electrification. Computer simulation and experimental study of volumetric charging of polymer films with controlled increased conductivity under the action of low-energy electrons, performed at the first stage revealed the necessary and sufficient conductivity values of various polymeric materials to ensure the flow of electrons injected into the polymer volume, allowing to guarantee the absence of ESR. The studies were carried out both for conditions of a quiet geomagnetic environment (it corresponds to a flux of incident electrons of 10-7 А∙м-2)and for conditions of a geomagnetic substorm with a flux density of incident electrons of 10-5 А∙м-2.

At the second stage of the work, computer simulation and experimental study of the dependence of the penetration strength of polymer films and air on the radius of a spherical electrode was carried out. In the course of the work, it was found that with a radius of the tip of the top of the crystal of a semiconductor device of 10 μm, the electric field is amplified 10 times compared to the uniform field of a flat capacitor. This circumstance made it possible to determine a new criterion for the size of the electric field 10 times smaller for the appearance of an ESD-type polymer case - a semiconductor crystal.

Finally, in the third section of this master's thesis, the modeling methodology and the results of an experimental study of the kinetics of the conductivity of fiberglass laminate after aging at elevated temperature and after a long vacuum are described. It has been shown that prolonged vacuumization reduces the specific volumetric conductivity of foiled fiberglass (material for the manufacture of printed circuit boards) by more than 300 times. Naturally, the maximum electric field in the volume of the dielectric of a printed circuit board rises by the same amount during electron irradiation.

Based on the experimental studies and computer simulations, measures have been developed to protect the onboard electronics of spacecraft by eliminating the physical possibility of the emergence of ESD due to a rational increase in the conductivity of dielectrics without degrading the parameters of the onboard electronic equipment of the spacecraft.

Student Theses at HSE must be completed in accordance with the University Rules and regulations specified by each educational programme.

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