Suppose we have an electric sail in LEO, how could one calculate the maximum voltage that could be sustained? It can't be infinite, there must be some limiting factors.

Is there any ionization voltage in LEO?

  • $\begingroup$ Are you concerned with the limitations on the "electron gun" output, or with the breakdown voltage of components holding the charged tether wires to the main body? It's not clear what you're trying to analyse. $\endgroup$ Sep 16, 2020 at 12:18
  • $\begingroup$ @CarlWitthoft high voltages cause several well documented and studied problems in spaceflight. This is a known thing. Of these, the OP is asking for advice how to determine what factors would limit the high voltage for an electric sail in LEO. So we have high voltage, and as is known there are plenty of electrons and ions in LEO which can interact with it. It makes no sense to challenge the OP to answer their own question. Keeping the question open will allow helpful answers, and they will address the questions that you are askin the OP to answer. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 16, 2020 at 12:42
  • $\begingroup$ voting once again to keep the question open so as not to block users from posting answers. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Sep 16, 2020 at 12:43


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