Development of Plasma Propulsion Systems for Spacecraft
Abstract: Satellites and spacecraft moving in an orbit or in interplanetary space use propulsion systems that use the principle of conservation of momentum to provide thrust. Typical in-space propulsion systems convert the chemical energy stored in the on-board propellant into kinetic energy. Propulsion systems that use other sources of energy (batteries, solar panels, radioactive sources of energy, nuclear reactors, etc.) are being developed as an alternative to the standard space propulsion systems. In some of these systems the propellant is ionized and plasma is obtained, this plasma is then accelerated with the help of electromagnetic forces and expelled from the spacecraft at high velocities to produce the desired thrust. These thrusters, also called plasma rockets, are being considered for use in earth orbiting satellites and certain manned and/or unmanned interplanetary missions. In this talk, I will present the plasma thrusters and the related equipment developed at the Bogazici University Space Technologies Laboratory, and provide a brief explanation to the physics behind their operation. Specifically, the design and development of an 80 mm diameter RF ion thruster and a novel neutralizer cathode with LaB6 insert will be presented.
Reminder: Tea and cookies will be in the seminar room before the seminar.