• Home
  • Current congress
  • Public Website
  • My papers
  • root
  • browse
  • IAC-05
  • C4
  • P
  • paper
  • Numerical simulation of stationary plasma thruster plume

    Paper number



    Mr. He Bijiao, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China


    Prof. Guobiao Cai, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China


    Mr. Jianhua Zhang, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, China



    Numerical simulation of stationary plasma thruster plume
    He Bijiao, Zhang Jianhua, Cai Guobiao
    School of Astronautics, Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Beijing 100083, China

    Abstract: The stationary plasma thruster (SPT), one of electric propulsion thrusters, is used on many communications satellites for providing high specific impulse with low work voltage. The high velocity propellant ion at large scattering angle of the SPT plume could damage the host spacecraft, especially solar cells. It would bring some undesirable but inevitable effects, which are the important problems and must be solved during the spacecrafts’ design. The numerical simulation of the SPT plume is a key method to investigate plume problem because the SPT plume experiment is comparatively expensive.

    In this paper, a hybrid particle-fluid model is used to model plasma dynamics of the SPT plume, which includes the particle-in-cell (PIC) method and the direct simulation Monte Carlo (DSMC) method. During the simulation of the plume, the ions and atoms are thought as particles, and the electrons are thought as a fluid. The DSMC method is applied to simulate collisions between the atoms and the ions, and the PIC method is used to simulate the effect of ions on the electron fluid. In addition, the electron fluid always can be described by either the model of isothermal or the model of variable electron temperature. However, according to the actual distribution of electron temperature in the SPT plume, an extra hybrid temperature model could include isothermal in the plume far-field and variable electron temperature in the plume near-field. The parameters of the SPT exit have a significant influence on simulation of the SPT plume and can be set by uniform distribution and fitting experiment data. The experiment data is got from Sang-Wook Kim’s experiment and David H. Manzella’s experiment.

    Several different models and numerical arithmetic cases are calculated and their results are compared with the results of Lyon B. King’s experiment and Sang-Wook Kim’s experiment respectively. In conclusion, from the comparison between experiment and simulation, the hybrid model of isothermal and variable electron temperature is better than other electron fluid models, and the method of fitting experiment data is more effective than the method of uniform distribution for the setting of the SPT exit parameters.

    Abstract document


    Manuscript document

    IAC-05-C4.P.04.pdf (🔒 authorized access only).

    To get the manuscript, please contact IAF Secretariat.