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Pickup ion processes associated with spacecraft thrusters: Implications for solar probe plus



AuthorClemens, Adam; Burgess, David;
KeywordsParker Data Used; parker solar probe; Solar Probe Plus
Abstract

Chemical thrusters are widely used in spacecraft for attitude control and orbital manoeuvres. They create an exhaust plume of neutral gas which produces ions via photoionization and charge exchange. Measurements of local plasma properties will be affected by perturbations caused by the coupling between the newborn ions and the plasma. A model of neutral expansion has been used in conjunction with a fully three-dimensional hybrid code to study the evolution and ionization over time of the neutral cloud produced by the firing of a mono-propellant hydrazine thruster as well as the interactions of the resulting ion cloud with the ambient solar wind. Results are presented which show that the plasma in the region near to the spacecraft will be perturbed for an extended period of time with the formation of an interaction region around the spacecraft, a moderate amplitude density bow wave bounding the interaction region and evidence of an instability at the forefront of the interaction region which causes clumps of ions to be ejected from the main ion cloud quasi-periodically.

Year of Publication2016
JournalPhysics of Plasmas
Volume2366344121978
Number of Pages032901
Section
Date Published03/2016
ISBN
URLhttp://aip.scitation.org/doi/10.1063/1.4942938
DOI10.1063/1.4942938