Plasmaphysik Seminar

6 Decades of Thrust - RIT Radio Frequency Ion Thruster Technology for Science and Space Exploration

by Prof. Hans Leiter (Justus-Liebig-Universität Gießen)

Tuesday, January 15, 2019 from to (Europe/Berlin)
at GSI Darmstadt ( Seminarraum Theorie )
Maneuvering of rockets, satellites and scientific probes in space always bases on the same fundamental principle of expelling mass from spacecraft The standard method for building propulsion systems is the heating and acceleration of gases in combustion chambers and nozzles. 

An alternative method is the ionization of the propellant. Once in charged state the propellant can be accelerated in electrostatic fields. The method is limited in its maximum thrust, however substantially higher exhaust velocities are realized and thrust can be controlled with highest precision.

Especially the excellent thrust control of ion propulsion is the key for new scientific missions for earth and deep space observation. The in-situ compensation of external disturbing forces as atmospheric or solar drag will enable innovative mission concepts providing a better understanding of our planet and a deep insight into our universe. For this type of applications very low thrust in the micro-Newton regime is required.
Exploration of our solar system extends the thrust range in the opposite direction. A total thrust of some Newtons will be the key for manned missions powered by electric propulsion. 
"6 Decades of Thrust" will provide an introduction into the technology and a journey from micro thrust applications to future high power electric propulsion with emphasize on scientific applications.