Predictive simulation of contamination effects on satellites

Optical detectors and lens systems form the centerpiece of optical satellites for earth observation and other explorative missions. Volatile substances originating from the satellite components can cause contamination and thus hamper the performance of optical equipment in satellites right up to total failure in orbit. To predict contamination effects inside satellites we develop a simulation software based on the Monte Carlo vacuum simulator Molflow+ from CERN. We use an iterative sequence of particle transport calculations (Molflow+) coupled to a contamination model to simulate the time-dependent evolution of the amount of contaminating particles on the surfaces of a vacuum system.

Measurements are intended to validate the numerical contamination predictions and to characterize the failure risk of optical satellite components.

The project goal is to create a tool for contamination prediction and risk classification to be applied in the development process of optical satellites.