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Q & A: Charging of satellites due to impinging photons

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Most recent answer: 12/18/2013
Q:
Just an enthusiast about space tech and I was wondering. I know the photoelectric effect E=hf, whereby photons of sufficient energy such as gamma photons can liberate electrons in metals. If so, would satellites in heliocentric orbit find their metal surfaces being liberated of electrons? If so, what would happen to the satellites?
- Sam (age 17)
UK
A:

Hello Sam,

Yes, especially with ultra-violet photons.  What would happen?   The satellite would just charge up and provide an attractive positive force to the electrons.  Eventually the satellite's potential would come to some equilibrium and electron loss would cease.

 

LeeH


(published on 12/18/2013)

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