The space environment produces a number of performance challenges to satellite and spacecraft manufacturers that require measurements, including effects from hyperthermal atomic oxygen, charged particles, magnetic fields, spacecraft charging, ultraviolet radiation, micrometeoroids, and cryogenic temperatures. Ground tests involving a simulated space environment help explore these challenges, but also benefit from simulations that predict the anticipated physical phenomena, or help reconcile the measured observations to physical parameters. We present an update and application of a flexible multi-physics software simulation framework intended for predicting space environment performance and ground-test simulations of spacecraft. In this specific application we show how the energy dependent erosion yield may be applied with a rarefied gas dynamics simulation to aid comparison of terrestrial erosion rate measurements and on-orbit materials degradation. For the considered fluoropolymer material, we found that explicit consideration of the atomic oxygen energy distribution could potentially modify the expected correspondence between ground tests and space by 67%.
We present initial work to develop an extensible model for spacecraft environmental interactions. The starting point for model development is a rarefied gas dynamics model for hyperthermal atomic oxygen. The space envi- ronment produces a number of challenging stimuli, including atomic oxygen, but also charged particles, magnetic fields, spacecraft charging, ultraviolet radiation, micrometeoroids, and cryogenic temperatures. Moreover, the responses of spacecraft to combinations or sequences of these stimuli are different from their responses to single stimuli.
New multi-stimulus test facilities such as the Space Threat Assessment Testbed at the USAF Arnold Engi- neering Development Complex make understanding the similarities and differences between terrestrial test and on-orbit conditions increasingly relevant. The extensible model framework under development is intended to host the variety of models needed to describe the multiphysics environment, allowing them to interact to produce a consistent unified picture. The model framework will host modules that can be validated individually or in combination.