A document discusses concepts for the design of an antenna to be deployed from a spacecraft for measuring the ambient electric field associated with plasma waves at a location within 3 solar radii from the solar photosphere. The antenna must be long enough to extend beyond the photoelectron and plasma sheaths of the spacecraft (expected to be of the order of meters thick) and to enable measurements at frequencies from 20 Hz to 10 MHz without contamination by spacecraft electric-field noise. The antenna must, therefore, extend beyond the thermal protection system (TPS) of the main body of the spacecraft and must withstand solar heating to a temperature as high as 2,000 °C while not conducting excessive heat to the interior of the spacecraft.

The TPS would be conical and its axis would be pointed toward the Sun. The antenna would include monopole halves of dipoles that would be deployed from within the shadow of the TPS. The outer potion of each monopole would be composed of a carbon-carbon (C-C) composite surface exposed to direct sunlight (hot side) and a C-C side in shadow (cold side) with yttria-stabilized zirconia spacers in between. The hot side cannot view the spacecraft bus, while the cold side can. The booms also can be tilted to minimize heat input to spacecraft bus. This design allows one to reduce heat input to the spacecraft bus to acceptable levels.

This work was done by Edward Charles Sittler, Jr., of Goddard Space Flight Center. For more information, download the Technical Support Package (free white paper) at www.techbriefs.com/tsp under the Physical Sciences category. GSC-15052-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the March, 2007 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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