The space environment is surrounded by different physical phenomena. Depending on the physical nature phenomenon, electronics space systems will be affected in one way or another. For a space mission is of necessity to know this environment very well in order to avoid damages and malfunctions in the onboard electronics. The exact behaviour of such physical phenomena in a specific space mission depends on the satellite’s orbit and it can be simulated with software tools. The simulation results help the satellite developers to design the system accordingly.
In the space environment following kind of physical phenomena can be found:
Single oxygen atoms
UV light break the O2 molecules in single Oxygen atoms. The atomic Oxygen is very reactive and erodes the surface of the satellite structure. This rust affects the thermal behaviour of the structure and of the satellite. This is a very important issue because the spacecraft thermal control will be impacted.
The ionized gases generate electrostatic charges and load the surface of the satellite electrically. The discharge of such loads can affect the operations of the satellite and of the instruments.
A variety of effects belong to this phenomena. Gamma rays degrade the electronic components. Protons and heavy ions can literally destroy the electronics of the satellite or in the best case corrupt digital data.
Micrometeoroids and space debris
The most dangerous events in the space environment represents small artificial or natural bodies. The impact of micrometeoroid or space debris can damage or destroy the satellite. Such situations have already happened and the consequence was the loss of the spacecraft.