An in-flight plasma diagnostic package for spacecraft with electric propulsion
Institute of Experimental and Applied Physics, University of Kiel, Leibnizstraße 19, D-24098, Kiel, Germany
2 von Hoerner & Sulger GmbH, Schlossplatz 8, D-68723, Schwetzingen, Germany
3 European Space Research & Technology Centre (ESTEC), Keplerlaan 1, NL-2201, Noordwijk, Netherlands
4 OHB System AG, Universitätsallee 27–29, D-28359, Bremen, Germany
5 Thales Deutschland GmbH, Söflinger Straße 100, D-89077, Ulm, Germany
Accepted: 29 August 2021
Published online: 27 October 2021
The plasma diagnostics presented in this article target the plasma surrounding a spacecraft that is created by the electric thruster and its surface modifying effects. The diagnostic package includes a retarding potential analyzer, a plane Langmuir probe, and an erosion sensor. The paper describes the instrument as well as suitable test environments for mimicking the effects expected in space and shows test results. The system is to fly for the first time on the Heinrich Hertz satellite, which is scheduled to be launched in 2023. The spacecraft will be equipped with a pair of Highly Efficient Multistage Plasma Thrusters (HEMPT) and a pair of Hall thrusters for redundancy.
Key words: Plasma diagnostics / Electric spacecraft propulsion / Ion thrusters / Sputtering / Charge-exchange collisions
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