Optimization of pulsed plasma thrusters for microsatellite propulsion

P. J. Turchi, I. G. Mikellides, Pavlos Mikellides, H. Kamhawi

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution

9 Scopus citations

Abstract

Simplicity, robustness and ability to operate in pulses at low average power have allowed selection of the pulsed plasma microthruster (PPT) for spaceflight application even though its thrust efficiency and mass utilization have historically been very poor. Recent success in modeling PPT behavior has led to new insights that permit optimization of performance for microsatellite needs. In particular, the circuit current must match the propellant dimensions in order to minimize the loss of mass at very low exhaust speed. Ideally, this match occurs when temperatures in the propellant exceed the value for decomposition only for a depth corresponding to the mass accelerated electromagnetically by the plasma discharge. The unsteady nature of heat flow in the PPT requires consideration of both the temporal and spatial distribution of the discharge, in addition to the peak amplitude of the current pulse. The paper presents results of analytical and numerical modeling and discusses optimization of propellant properties for satisfying mission requirements.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publication35th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit
PublisherAmerican Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA
ISBN (Print)9780000000002
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes
Event35th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 1999 - Los Angeles, United States
Duration: Jun 20 1999Jun 24 1999

Other

Other35th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit, 1999
CountryUnited States
CityLos Angeles
Period6/20/996/24/99

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering

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  • Cite this

    Turchi, P. J., Mikellides, I. G., Mikellides, P., & Kamhawi, H. (1999). Optimization of pulsed plasma thrusters for microsatellite propulsion. In 35th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit [AIAA-99-2301] American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics Inc, AIAA.