Development, laboratory experiments, and flight testing of propulsion systems is essential for the future of nanosatellites. Highly efficient propulsion systems enable new missions such as improved operation in Earth orbit, lunar surveying, and interplanetary exploration. Nanosatellites also serve as an inexpensive test bed for new propulsion technologies which can be scaled for larger missions. Among these new technologies are magnetic nozzles, new propellants (iodine, water), and new propellant feed systems.
Performance measurements of CAT will be found with a micro-newton thrust stand designed at PEPL. Plume measurements are made using the the Langmuir probe, retarding potential analyzer, and emissive probe diagnostics at PEPL. Simulations of the CAT thruster will also be performed with a newly developed quasi-one-dimensional particle-in-cell code.
Preliminary performance measurements of an integrated thruster, including power processing and propellant management units, has demonstrated lower than expected performance (~1s-10s of uN). This project is no longer active while the root causes of the demonstrated performance are being investigated.
Development of Novel Propellant Feed Systems for the CubeSat Ambipolar Thruster
Collard, T., Sheehan, J.P., and Longmier, B.W
Quasi-one-dimensional code for particle-in-cell simulation of magnetic nozzle expansion
Ebersohn, F.H., Sheehan, J.P., Longmier, B.W., and Shebalin, J.V.
New Low-Power Plasma Thruster for Nanosatellites
Sheehan, J.P., Longmier, B.W., Reese, I., and Collard, T.
Initial Experiments of a New Permanent Magnet Helicon Thruster
Sheehan, J.P., Longmier, B.W., Reese, I., Collard, T., Ebersohn, F.H., Dale, E.T., Wachs, B.N., Ostermann, M.E.