This program will address the stated need from the National Space Weather Strategy and Action plan to “enhance the Protection of National Security, Homeland Security, and Commercial Assets and Operations against the Effects of Space Weather”. Specifically, we will develop and deploy robust and autonomous space weather charge mitigation technology by applying durable and highly emissive composite coatings onto spacecraft components such as solar arrays. In Phase I we will optimize and develop a scalable electrophoretic deposition approach to apply tunable erosion resistant and highly emissive passive coatings consisting of mixtures of low work function material and hard/conductive boron doped diamond materials. The coating properties will further be tuned according to the technical constraints and needs specific to the locations of interest on the spacecraft that require high emissivity and erosion resistant coatings, which will be identified in the beginning of Phase I. The coating development activities will be guided by an evaluation of the electron-emitting properties of the coating before and after Xenon ion sputtering, across a broad range of energies, and identify first and second crossover energies, maximum yields, and energies of maximum yields. Finally, we will estimate the feasibility of transitioning this technology to pertinent spacecraft components of interest to NASA and our Phase II commercialization partners. In Phase II, Faraday, USU, and commercial partners will apply the optimized coatings to testable components and expose them to simulated launch conditions, space weather, ionospheric charging, and ion sputtering erosion and deliver a prototype to NASA. Success in meeting these criteria will provide technical/economic validation and accelerate transition toward establishing commercial adoption of the technology to meet NASA and other commercial applications within Phase III.
This next generation space weather mitigation technology will enable the local and selective application of autonomously emitting, erosion resistant coatings onto spacecraft components and improve their resilience to space weather events. This lightweight, erosion resistant composite coating for autonomous electron emission could be applied to various spacecraft platforms include spacecraft skin, solar arrays, circuit boards, and emitters such that their lifetime, effectiveness and durability within LEO/GEO environments events can be enhanced.
The commercial global space economy is almost $300B and growing. Initial applications will focus on improving the resilience of commercial solar cells due to ongoing relationships with solar cell manufacturers. Subsequent applications will be targeted towards space charge mitigation needs for maintaining power grids, communications, environmental monitoring, remote sensing and national security.