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Paper: SMM coronagraph observations of particulate contamination
Volume: 17, Light Pollution, Radio Interference, and Space Debris
Page: 126
Authors: St. Cyr, O. C.; Warner, T.
Abstract: Some recent images taken by the white light coronagraph telescope aboard the Solar Maximum Mission (SMM) observatory show bright streaks that are apparently caused by particles associated with the spacecraft. In this report we describe these observations, and we analyze the times of their occurrence. We demonstrate that the sightings occur most often near SMM's orbital dawn, and we speculate that thermal shock is the mechanism that produces the particles. Although these sightings have not seriously affected the coronagraph's scientific operations, the unexpected passage of bright material through the field of view of sensitive spaceborne telescopes can lead to data loss or, in some cases, serious detector damage. The topic of space debris has become a significant concern for designers of both manned and unmanned orbiting platforms. The returned samples from the SMM spacecraft and the observations reported here provide a baseline of experience for future orbital platforms that plan long duration missions.
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