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Title: Spacecraft-environment interaction model cross comparison applied to Solar Probe Plus
Authors: Lapenta, Giovanni
Deca, Jan
Markidis, Stefano
Marchand, Richard
Guillemant, Stanislas
Matéo-Vélez, Jean-Charles
Miyake, Yohei
Usui, Hideyuki
Ergun, Robert
Sturner, Andrew
Issue Date: Dec-2013
Conference: American Geophysical Union, Fall Meeting edition:2013 location:San Fransisco date:9-13 December 2013
Abstract: Given that our society becomes increasingly dependent on space technology, it is imperative to develop a good understanding of spacecraft-plasma interactions. Two main issues are important. First, one needs to be able to design a reliable spacecraft that can survive in the harsh solar wind conditions, and second a very good knowledge of the behaviour and plasma structure around the spacecraft is required to be able to interpret and correct measurements from onboard instruments and science experiments. In this work we present the results of a cross-comparison study between five spacecraft-plasma models (EMSES, iPic3D, LASP, PTetra, SPIS) used to simulate the interaction of the Solar Probe Plus (SPP) satellite with the space environment under representative solar wind conditions near perihelion. The purpose of this cross-comparison is to assess the consistency and validity of the different numerical approaches from the similarities and differences of their predictions under well defined conditions, with attention to the implicit PIC code iPic3D, which has never been used for spacecraft-environment interaction studies before. The physical effects considered are spacecraft charging, photoelectron and secondary electron emission, the presence of a background magnetic field and density variations. The latter of which can cause the floating potential of SPP to go from negative to positive or visa versa, depending on the solar wind conditions, and spacecraft material properties. Simulation results are presented and compared with increasing levels of complexity in the physics to evaluate the sensitivity of the model predictions to certain physical effects. The comparisons focus particularly on spacecraft floating potential, detailed contributions to the currents collected and emitted by the spacecraft, and on the potential and density spatial profiles near the satellite. Model predictions obtained with our different computational approaches are found to be in good agreement when the physical processes are treated similarly. The comparisons considered here indicate that, with the correct parameterization of important physical effects such as photoemission and secondary electron emission, our simulation models should have the required skill to predict details of satellite-plasma interaction physics with a high level of confidence. This work was supported by the International Space Science Institute in Bern Switzerland. The potential profile around the Solar Probe Plus spacecraft in orbital flow, from the iPic3D code. The physical model includes photo- and secondary electrons and a static magnetic field.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Plasma-astrophysics Section

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