NASA 1998 SBIR Phase I


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 98-1 16.03-4411

PROJECT TITLE: Plasma Charge Balancing System for S/C Floating Potential Control

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (LIMIT 200 WORDS)

Electrostatic potential control of spacecraft is important to improve measurements of low energy charged particle spectra by scientific payloads that are exposed to varying space plasma environments. Previously this control has been accomplished using a power supply connected between the spacecraft frame and a plasma contactor derived from electric propulsion technology. Unfortunately, the existing plasma contactor designs can affect other scientific instruments due to their inherently noisy operation, or by interactions between space and the contactor plasma due to the energic expansion of the dense contactor plasma. An innovative plasma charge balancing system capable of directly affecting specie energy distributions is proposed as an improvement over traditional plasma contactor systems. A series of experiments is described to verify this concept and demonstrate (1) reduced noise generation and (2) mitigation of the effects of the contactor plasma expansion. Benefits to NASA of using this technology would be the near-term availability of a versatile potential control system suitable to a wide range of future scientific spacecraft.

POTENTIAL COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS

A plasma charge balancing system could provide the basis for an advanced surface charge control system in ground-based microelectronic processing devices.

NAME AND ADDRESS OF PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR

Dr. John D. Williams
Electric Propulsion Laboratory, Inc.
1040 Synthes Ave.
Monument , CO 80132

NAME AND ADDRESS OF OFFEROR

Electric Propulsion Laboratory, Inc.
1040 Synthes Ave.
Monument , CO 80132