As Richard Hamming pointed out, "The less we know, the more we suppose" As I understand this they were using the 'orbital dynamo' to create electricity by moving a conductor thru a magnetic field, as well as probing the local plasma, They were also doing the Ben Franklin experiment. Could a gust of solar wind have increased the conductivity of the surrounding plasma and generated a large potential across the length of the tether that burned out the tether at one end and the computer at the other --- space lightning. The same thing happens sometimes on earth when the solar wind causes aurora and power distribution systems crash. The previous tether, SEDS-2 broke in two twice. It seems unlikely that debris hit it twice, but maybe the solar wind burned it in two like a fuse. SThompson@esiusa.com Make two backups and keep the humor dry.