Static electricity in outer space?

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Static electricity in outer space? Somewhere I read that a space vehicle traveling in outer space picks up a static electricity charge. Is this true and if it is true, where does that static electric charge come from?
 

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  • #2
Drakkith
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Space, especially near stars, is full of charged particles called Protons and Electrons. These are mostly sent out by the solar winds of the Sun and other stars. They can accumulate on spacecraft and result in an inbalance of charges, which is known as static electricity.
 
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Then there's cosmic rays,
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cosmic_ray
quote:
About 89% of incoming cosmic ray nuclei are simple protons (hydrogen nuclei), 10% are helium nuclei (alpha particles), and 1% of cosmic ray nuclei are those of the heavier elements. These nuclei together make up 99% of cosmic rays, and solitary electrons (much like beta particles, although their ultimate source is unknown) constitute the remaining 1% of the particles that make up galactic cosmic rays. It is unknown why electrons are accelerated less efficiently than atomic nuclei, during galactic cosmic ray production.[1]
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Space, especially near stars, is full of charged particles called Protons and Electrons. These are mostly sent out by the solar winds of the Sun and other stars. They can accumulate on spacecraft and result in an inbalance of charges, which is known as static electricity.

How do we figure the static electric charge that our earth can develop moving through space? Because we do move through space next to a star, how do we calculate the possible effect that this static electric charge is going to have on our planet surface?
 
  • #5
Andy Resnick
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Static electricity in outer space? Somewhere I read that a space vehicle traveling in outer space picks up a static electricity charge. Is this true and if it is true, where does that static electric charge come from?

I've often wondered about this- for example, the space shuttle and space station each pick up a lot of static charge: friction from the atmosphere, etc. How is a ground maintained? That is, when they dock what happens to all the accumulated charge? What about when the shuttle picks up a satellite for repair?

Given all the expensive electronics aboard spacecraft, I know someone has figured this out... nobody I know, tho.
 

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