Pulsed plasma thruster


Pulsed plasma thruster

Pulsed plasma thrusters are a method of spacecraft propulsion which use an arc of electric current adjacent to a solid propellant, to produce a quick and repeatable burst of impulse. PPTs are excellent for attitude control, and for main propulsion on particularly small spacecraft with a surplus of electricity (those in the hundred-kilogram or less category). However they are also one of the least efficient electric propulsion systems, with a thrust efficiency of less than 10%.

PPTs have much higher exhaust velocity than chemical propulsion engines. According to the Tsiolkovsky equation this results in proportionally higher final velocity of propelled craft. The principle of operation is acceleration of ions in a strong electric field to the velocities of the order of hundreds km/s - which is much higher than the thermal velocity of chemical engines. Chemical propulsion engines with their limited by rate of chemical reaction exhaust velocity (which is in the range of 2-3 km/s) become exponentially ineffective (see Tsiolkovsky equation) to achieve high interplanetary speeds (which in Solar system is in 20-70 km/s range).

Pulsed plasma thrusters were the first electric thrusters to be deployed in space, used for attitude control on the Soviet probes Zond 2, from parking at Earth orbit to Mars on November 30, 1964, and Zond 3 in 1965. The active gas used in the Soviet plasma propulsion engines was argon and helium. Soviet engineers subsequently returned to the use of high-pressure nitrogen jets.

Pulsed plasma thrusters were flown in November, 2000 as a flight experiment on the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center EO-1 spacecraft. The thrusters successfully demonstrated the ability to perform roll control on the spacecraft and also demonstrated that the electromagnetic interference from the pulsed plasma did not affect other spacecraft systems. These experiments used Teflon as the propellant.

ee also

*Hall effect thruster
*Magnetoplasmadynamic thruster
*Spacecraft propulsion
*Magnetic sail

External links

* [http://alfven.princeton.edu/papers/tem_jpc2002abstext.htm Design of a High-energy, Two-stage Pulsed Plasma Thrust]

* [http://eo1.gsfc.nasa.gov/miscPages/TechForumPres/25-PPT.pdf EO1 Pulsed Plasma Thruster]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Pulsed inductive thruster — Pulsed inductive thrusters (or PITs) are a form of ion thruster, used in spacecraft propulsion. A PIT uses perpendicular electric and magnetic fields to accelerate a propellant. A nozzle releases a puff of gas (usually ammonia or argon) which… …   Wikipedia

  • Electrodeless plasma thruster — The electrodeless plasma thruster is a spacecraft propulsion engine. It was created by Mr. Gregory Emsellem based on technology developed by French Atomic Energy Commission scientist Dr Richard Geller and Dr. Terenzio Consoli, for high speed… …   Wikipedia

  • Thruster — A thruster is a small propulsive device used by spacecraft and watercraft for station keeping, attitude control, or long duration low thrust acceleration.Thruster (surfing) is a surfboard fin design.Spacecraft thrusters,*Electrohydrodynamic… …   Wikipedia

  • Plasma (physics) — For other uses, see Plasma. Plasma lamp, illustrating some of the more complex phenomena of a plasma, including filamentation. The colors are a result of relaxation of electrons in excited states to lower energy states after they have recombined… …   Wikipedia

  • Magnetoplasmadynamic thruster — An MPD thruster during test firing The Magnetoplasmadynamic (MPD) thruster (MPDT) is a form of electrically powered spacecraft propulsion which uses the Lorentz force (a force resulting from the interaction between a magnetic field and an… …   Wikipedia

  • Colloid thruster — 20 μN colloid thruster system.[1] A colloid thruster is a type of thruster which uses electrostatic acceleration of charged liquid droplets for propulsion. It is closely related to electrospray ionization and other hydrodynamic spraying processes …   Wikipedia

  • Nonequilibrium Gas and Plasma dynamics group — A research group in the Aerospace Engineering Department at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, run by Professor Iain Boyd. The group is active in the development and application of numerical models for the simulation of nonequilibrium gas and …   Wikipedia

  • Ion thruster — An ion thruster is a form of electric propulsion used for spacecraft propulsion that creates thrust by accelerating ions. Ion thrusters are characterized by how they accelerate the ions, using either electrostatic or electromagnetic force.… …   Wikipedia

  • Electrostatic ion thruster — The electrostatic ion thruster is a kind of design for ion thrusters (a kind of highly efficient low thrust spacecraft propulsion running on electrical power). These designs use high voltage electrodes in order to accelerate ions with… …   Wikipedia

  • Hall effect thruster — In spacecraft propulsion, a Hall thruster is a type of ion thruster in which the propellant is accelerated by an electric field. Hall thrusters trap electrons in a magnetic field and then use the electrons to ionize propellant, efficiently… …   Wikipedia


Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.