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Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory


The current method being developed at the Advanced Space Propulsion Laboratory is a Monte-Carlo particle dynamics simulation. The efficient computer code developed in the lab is capable to calculate millions of particle trajectories within hours. It allows computers to get accurate self-consistent data on plasma density, temperature and velocity. The use of the particle code together with ion cyclotron radio frequency simulation code developed in Oak Ridge National Laboratory demonstrates efficient heating of the plasma by radio frequency waves.

IMAGE: Magnetic FieldFor the magnetostatic case, the simulations demonstrate plasma detachment from the magnetic field lines, the capability of the simplest magnetic nozzle to reduce axial plasma momentum loss and the capability for magnetic shielding from a solar flare.

Extensive studies of plasma flows on the plasma rocket are being conducted by several collaborators. Research at Massachusetts Institute of Technology centers on a kinetic approach. The collaborators from the Oak Ridge National Laboratory utilize fluid approach by using a code for calculation of Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Field.

The University of Texas at Austin team explores the fundamental physics of the plasma in order to optimize a parameter space. The University of Maryland investigators possess experience, specialized algorithms and software for plasma simulation based on Fluid Dynamic and Kinetic methods. Periodically plasma rocket researchers meet to discuss theoretical and simulation aspects of the research.

Thermal Analysis
IMAGE: Thermal Analysis
This is a model of the Research and Technology Demonstration thermal environment.
Plasma Detachment Simulations
IMAGE: Plasma Detachment Simulations

Curator: Kim Dismukes | Responsible NASA Official: John Ira Petty | Updated: 07/01/2003
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