As electronics hardware grows more prevalent and sophisticated, it becomes more susceptible to problems such as electrostatic discharge (ESD). At the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL), control of ESD is extremely important because of the high costs of spacecraft for planetary exploration, the increasing lengths of planetary missions, the vulnerability of electronic components, budgetary constraints, and the overall complexity of various components in the spacecraft.

Three approaches are used at JPL to control ESD. A six-member ESD committee, a series of seven documents, and knowledge based on experience are combined to deal with ESD problems.

Observations show that most damage from ESD occurs for one of two reasons: either one or more persons have failed to comply with clearly listed or defined requirements or certain subtleties are not readily or initially apparent.

Specific experience with ESD problems is discussed.

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