- Conference date: 11-14 Feb 2001
- Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico
For successful propulsive applications, electrodynamic tethers require efficient, high electron current emission systems capable of low loss contact with the ambient orbital space plasma environment. Miniaturized plasma activated systems are described for performing this current coupling function. A 0–10 A system developed to support the tether current coupling requirements of the NASA/MSFC Propulsive Small Expendable Deployer System (ProSEDS) mission is described. This system utilizes advances in miniaturized components that are integrated into the gas storage and feed subsystem, the power conditioning subsystem, and the plasma electron source subsystem. As a consequence, the ProSEDS Hollow Cathode Plasma Contactor (HCPC) system has a mass of only 4 kg which includes all of the xenon gas required to the support the anticipated 10,000 on-off cycles during the nominal 14 day ProSEDS mission. Derivatives of the ProSEDS HCPC system are described which allow for much longer duration missions while still using the same basic building block subsystems. Furthermore, similar hardware building block approaches are presented to support still smaller plasma activated systems for tether current generation down to electron emission current levels of 1 A, and also extreme tether mission applications where total electron emission current requirements could be of order 100 A.
- Electron emission
- Carrier generation
- Electron sources
- Plasma propulsion
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