Plasma Surface Interactions and Accelerated Life Testing – The Key Technology Challenges in the Development of Gridded Ion Engines

Prof. Stephen Gabriel
Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics
University of Southampton, Southampton, UK and Mars Space Ltd, UK

The talk will present an overview of the research activities on Electric Propulsion (EP) and other low temperature plasma technologies at both the university of Southampton and Mars Space Ltd, focusing on some of the key challenges.

The university has been active in EP for nearly 30 years, while Mars Space was spawned as a spin-off around 10 years ago. How the two organizations have collaborated as partners will be described with an attempt to bring out some of the successes but also some of the potential problems.

Historically, EP research at the university has included gridded ion engines(GIEs), hollow cathodes(HCs) and hollow cathode thrusters(HCTs), pulsed plasma thrusters(PPTs) and microcolloid thrusters. Current activities are centred around heaterless hollow cathodes, alternative propellants for GIEs and liquid PPTs. Some of the terrestrial applications of low temperature plasmas where there is some synergy with EP are plasma antennas and triggered vacuum arcs.

At Mars Space, the main research areas are broadly similar but more of a developmental nature and in close collaboration with industry. Key areas include the development of a ring cusp(RC) GIE with QinetiQ and a GIE hollow cathode neutralizer with Ariane Group but work is also ongoing on a high temperature resistojet with the possibility of future efforts on an arcjet with Nammo.

The talk will be given in English

Sun, 24-12-2017, 10:00

Asher Space Research Institute (ASRI) seminar room

Plasma Surface Interactions and Accelerated Life Testing – The Key Technology Challenges in the Development of Gridded Ion Engines