Spacecraft charging related risk of floating connector pins
Every national spacecraft charging related design guideline or design standard includes prohibitions against floating, or ungrounded, connector pins. The rationale is obvious. A floating connector pin represents ungrounded metal with a propensity to accumulate charge from the space plasma environment and, upon breakdown, effectively couple the discharge energy directly into sensitive system electronics by virtue of adjacent pins and cables. Satellite designers may recognize that, seemingly as common as the rationale is obvious, there are instances in violation of this clear guideline and impassioned arguments for permissions to do so. This paper represents a comprehensive effort to quantitatively, theoretically, analytically, and empirically assess the risk associated with ungrounded connector pins in the selected (geostationary earth orbit and medium earth orbit) orbits.
Authors: Likar, Justin J., Hartojo, Kris, Ott, George, Bird, John, Meredith, Nigel P. ORCID record for Nigel P. Meredith