We propose the development of a user-friendly software tool for estimating the electric field distributions within spacecraft enclosures based on the Power Balance (PwB) method and enhanced by a database of experimentally determined Absorption Cross-Sections (ACS) of common equipment, components and cables.
The software will be built around an already developed PwB solver that determines the statistical properties of fields for an arbitrary enclosure or multiple adjoined enclosures filled with a variety of objects and containing multiple apertures of varying dimension. The effectiveness of the PwB solver will be augmented by a user-friendly GUI that allows users to interactively define cavities through point and click operations in an already commercially successful product. The cavities can either be canonical in nature or based upon high fidelity CAD models of the spacecraft enclosures. A critical aspect of accurately predicting the statistical distribution of electric fields in a cavity is how the cavities are loaded with lossy structures. Without properly accounting for such lossy structures, results from simple PwB approaches can be off by 10’s of dB. Unfortunately, the Absorption Cross-Sections (ACS) of common components found in aerospace platforms are not readily available to analysts. As part of the proposed effort, the ACS of items commonly found in spacecraft enclosures (electronic boards, cables, avionics equipment), as well as the properties of the enclosure’s walls and seams will be characterized via measurements and provided in a database accessible through the software tool’s GUI. Such an enhanced PwB solver could tackle virtually any practical cavity problem, within the applicability boundaries of the PwB method.
NASA has requirements for electric fields due to both external and internal sources. The proposed PwB tool supplemented with measured ACS data would allow NASA to quickly and accurately predict field distributions in loaded cavities to assess potential problems early in the design cycle. The tool would also allow NASA to consider different mitigation strategies when problems were identified in the simulations. The proposed PwB tool would greatly reduce the amount of testing required and result in major cost savings for NASA.
While specific requirements may vary between applications, the rest of the aerospace community faces similar challenges that were identified in the solicitation for this topic. Analysts need reliable and fast simulation tools that can be used early in the design cycle for their aerospace platform to predict field distributions in loaded cavities in order to achieve air worthiness certifications.