The Earth Space environment is complex and highly dynamic and its features are determinate partially by the characteristics of the Earth itself, ionosphere, magnetosphere, interactions between Earth and the Sun, and interplanetary space..
Design of any system demands consideration of the environment in which it must operate, to ensure proper system function, reliability and lifetime.
The main environmental factors considered include neutral atoms and molecules, plasma, radiation and particulates.
Many of the environment components described above vary with position in orbit, local time season and level of solar activity.
- The Neutral environments consist of the ambient gas and that released by the spacecraft surface materials through outgassing or decomposition, deliberately vented from the spacecraft, or emitted during thrusters firings.
- The plasma environment includes the ambient plasma that released from plasma thrusters that d by ionisation or charge exchange with, the neutral gas that generated by arc discharges or that d by hypervelocity impacts with the spacecraft surfaces.
- The radiation environment has two components: electromagnetic and energetic particles. The electromagnetic radiation environment includes the ambient solar photon flux, that reflected (and emitted form the Earth), and the electromagnetic interference (EMI) generated by the operation of spacecraft systems or arcing. It also includes electromagnetic waves generated by the plasma environment. The energetic particles radiation environment consist of the ambient flux of particles, i.e., electrons, protons, heavy ions, and neutrons.
- The particulate environment consists of ambient meteoroids, orbital debris, and particulates released by the spacecraft.