Micropropulsion in space via dust-plasma thruster

Avinash, K. ; Zank, G. P. (2007) Micropropulsion in space via dust-plasma thruster Physics of Plasmas, 14 (5). Article ID 053507. ISSN 1070-664X

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Official URL: http://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.2722266

Related URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1063/1.2722266


A new engine for propulsion in space, i.e., the dust-plasma thruster, is proposed. The scheme uses plasma thermal energy to charge externally injected sub-micrometer-sized particles and simultaneously create electric fields in the plasma that accelerates them. Particles are subsequently charge stripped and exhausted to produce electrically neutral thrust obviating the need of a charge neutralizer. For reasonable plasma and particle parameters, thrust and specific impulse over a broad range may be produced. The dependence of thrust on particle size, number of injected particles, and plasma temperature density allows for a better thruster precision. The scheme is shown to have modest power requirements. It may be realized in a simple design where there are no high voltage grids or electrodes, charge neutralizer, valves, pressurized gases, etc., and can operate in space or vacuum. A layout for the possible configuration is described.

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ID Code:102890
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