NASA SBIR 2012 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 12-1 S3.02-8787
SUBTOPIC TITLE: Power Generation and Conversion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Modeling Vacuum Arcs On Spacecraft Solar Panel Arrays

SMALL BUSINESS CONCERN (Firm Name, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Tech-X Corporation
5621 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite A
Boulder, CO 80303 - 1379
(303) 448-0727

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Seth A Veitzer
5621 Arapahoe Ave
Boulder, CO 80303 - 1379
(720) 974-1848

CORPORATE/BUSINESS OFFICIAL (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
John R Cary
5621 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite A
Boulder, CO 80303 - 1379
(303) 448-0727

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 1
End: 3

Technology Available (TAV) Subtopics
Power Generation and Conversion is a Technology Available (TAV) subtopic that includes NASA Intellectual Property (IP). Do you plan to use the NASA IP under the award?

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Spacecraft charging and subsequent vacuum arcing poses a significant threat to satellites in LEO and GEO plasma conditions. Localized arc discharges can cause a flashover plasma expansion, that can lead to further discharge of charge stored on dielectric surfaces such as solar panel arrays, which can cause catastrophic events over large areas of the panel array surfaces. While spacecraft charging has been studied for a long time, the dynamics of flashover currents and propagation of the expanding plasma have not be well-characterized, although they are key in order to understand how to mitigate damage to solar panel arrays during discharge events. This project will improve the understanding of arc discharges and expanding plasma effects on dielectric structures such as solar panel arrays so that NASA will better be able to protect satellites from damaging vacuum arc discharges. We will develop accurate numerical simulations that model localized arcs, plasma expansion, and dielectric charging and discharging, under both simulated LEO and GEO plasma conditions. We also plan to extend our models to include the effects of non-uniform ambient plasma densities, secondary electron emission effects, and photo-electron effects. In Phase I, we will validate our numerical models against the theoretically known problem of expansion of a plasma into a vacuum, and will develop detailed simulations of a new AFRL round-robin experiment to test plasma propagation speeds in the presence of a charged dielectric material. We also plan to develop easy-to-use GUI interfaces so that NASA scientists will be able to use high-performance computing resources to examine the parameter space for these types of problems without having to dive deep into the code infrastructure and numerics of the simulations. At the conclusion of Phase II we plan to provide NASA and AFRL scientists with tools that they can use to better understand discharges on satellites and mitigate damage to solar arrays.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Other NASA missions will benefit from this work. For instance, researchers studying space weather effects, electric propulsion schemes, flow control and other plasma aerodynamic applications, or plasma electromagnetic effects for re-entry vehicles would benefit from this innovation. In all of these cases numerical tools that will help researchers design spacecraft and spacecraft systems that are hardened against the negative effects of vacuum

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
For other government agencies, this innovation is of interest to the Department of Defense, especially the Air Force, where researchers are interested in space weather effects and propulsion. Other agencies interested in this work include the Department of Energy, where researchers are interested in plasmas for fusion and other thermonuclear applications. We also believe that we can commercialize software developed as part of this project in the aerospace and electronics manufacturing markets. The ability to accurately model plasma expansion and interactions with dielectrics will enable commercial customers, such as those in the defense contracting industry to better design and improve the performance of their hardware products.

TECHNOLOGY TAXONOMY MAPPING (NASA's technology taxonomy has been developed by the SBIR-STTR program to disseminate awareness of proposed and awarded R/R&D in the agency. It is a listing of over 100 technologies, sorted into broad categories, of interest to NASA.)
Models & Simulations (see also Testing & Evaluation)

Form Generated on 03-28-13 15:21