The Internal Discharge Monitor (IDM) was designed to observe electrical pulses from common electrical insulators in space service. The sixteen insulator samples included twelve planar printed circuit boards and four cables. The samples were fully enclosed, mutually isolated, and space radiation penetrated 0.02 cm of aluminum before striking the samples. Pulsing began on the seventh orbit, the maximum pulse rate occurred on the seventeenth orbit when 13 pulses occurred, and the pulses slowly diminished to about one per 3 orbits six months later. After 8 months, the radiation belts abruptly increased and the pulse rates attained a new high. These pulse rates were in agreement with laboratory experience on shorter time scales. Several of the samples never pulsed. If the pulses were not confined within IDM, the physical processes could spread to become a full spacecraft anomaly. The IDM results indicate the rate at which small insulator pulses occur. Small pulses are the seeds of larger satellite electrical anomalies. The pulse rates are compared with space radiation intensities, L shell location, and spectral distributions from the radiation spectrometers on the Combined Release and Radiation Effects Satellite.
ELECTRONICS AND ELECTRICAL ENGINEERING
NASA. Johnson Space Center, 5th Annual Workshop on Space Operations Applications and Research (SOAR 1991), Volume 2; p 778-784