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Propulsion Instrument Electronics and Sensor Package
ENGINEERING RESEARCH AND CONSULTING INC(ERC INC) EDWARDS AFB CA
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Spacecraft operators and designers need to understand the interaction between thrusters and spacecraft, and the limitations of ground test facilities make it important to validate models with data obtained from on-orbit conditions. Toward this end, a sensor package will be manifested aboard future spacecraft for the purpose of developing a predictive capability for how electric propulsion thrusters interact with typical spacecraft. A small Hall thruster and a micro-PPT will be operated in orbit and several instruments will characterize the environment induced by the thrusters. An ion probe will determine the energy and species distributions and a Langmuir probe will characterize the electron density and temperature of the back-flow region of the thruster plume. These data are intended for comparison with detailed numerical models in this region. Other instruments directly measure the effects of thruster operation on spacecraft thermal control surfaces, optical surfaces and solar arrays. Specifically, radiometric, photometric and solar-cell-based sensors are under development.
APPROVED FOR PUBLIC RELEASE