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Diagnostics for electric propulsion systems

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Electric propulsion by various kinds of thrusters (plasma, ion,…) is a rapidly growing technology for engines of satellites and space probes for near-Earth and space exploration. In order to optimize such propulsion systems in different regimes (from a few µN to several N thrust) the availability of suitable and proper diagnostics is of fundamental importance. The diagnostics include, for example, electric, spectroscopic, calorimetric and momentum measurements during the development stage in the lab as well as during operation under space conditions.

This topical issue reviews the design and operating experience of related diagnostics and control systems from a number of different thruster concepts and missions. Topics such as hardware and software choices, links to spacecraft breadboard systems, communication and signal processing and resulting performance are covered as well.

Topics of interest include but are not limited to experimental and diagnostic aspects, measurements, methods, and fields of applications, such as:

•    thrust measurements
•    plasma probe diagnostics
•    electric thruster optimization
•    non-conventional methods
•    modelling and simulation for diagnostics

The Lead guest editor

Holger Kersten,  kersten@physik.uni-kiel.de
 


  1. Electric space propulsion thrusters only produce low thrust forces. For the fulfillment of a space mission this implies long thruster runtimes, and this entails long qualification times on ground. For such lon...

    Authors: Andreas Neumann, Jens Simon and Jens Schmidt

    Citation: EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation 2021 8:17

    Content type: Research article

    Published on:

  2. The plasma diagnostics presented in this article target the plasma surrounding a spacecraft that is created by the electric thruster and its surface modifying effects. The diagnostic package includes a retardi...

    Authors: Thomas Trottenberg, Florian Bansemer, Stephan Böttcher, Davar Feili, Hartmut Henkel, Marcel Hesse, Holger Kersten, Tony Krüger, Jens Laube, Alexey Lazurenko, Daniel Sailer, Björn Schuster, Lars Seimetz, Alexander Spethmann, Stefan Weis and Robert F. Wimmer-Schweingruber

    Citation: EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation 2021 8:16

    Content type: Research article

    Published on:

  3. We present a non-invasive approach for determining plasma parameters such as electron temperature and density inside a radio-frequency ion thruster (RIT) using optical emission spectroscopy (OES) in conjunctio...

    Authors: Benny T. Nauschütt, Limei Chen, Kristof Holste and Peter J. Klar

    Citation: EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation 2021 8:13

    Content type: Research article

    Published on:

    The Correction to this article has been published in EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation 2021 8:18

  4. The emerging “new space” age strengthens the importance of rapid development and qualification procedures of electric engines and their peripheral devices. A key element is the reliable simulation of the thrus...

    Authors: Patrick Dietz, Andreas Reeh, Konstantin Keil, Kristof Holste, Uwe Probst, Peter J. Klar and Chris Volkmar

    Citation: EPJ Techniques and Instrumentation 2021 8:10

    Content type: Research article

    Published on: