NASA STTR 2010 Solicitation


PROPOSAL NUMBER: 10-1 T3.01-9915
RESEARCH SUBTOPIC TITLE: Technologies for Space Power and Propulsion
PROPOSAL TITLE: Advanced Particle-in-Cell (PIC) Tools for Simulation of Electrodynamic Tether Plasma Interactions

NAME: Tech-X Corporation NAME: Colorado State University
STREET: 5621 Arapahoe Avenue, Suite A STREET: 6010 Campus Delivery
CITY: Boulder CITY: Fort Collins
STATE/ZIP: CO  80303 - 1379 STATE/ZIP: CO  80523 - 5105
PHONE: (303) 448-0727 PHONE: (970) 491-5105

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR/PROJECT MANAGER (Name, E-mail, Mail Address, City/State/Zip, Phone)
Sudhakar Mahalingam
5621 Arapahoe Ave
Boulder, CO 80303 - 1379
(303) 996-7257

Estimated Technology Readiness Level (TRL) at beginning and end of contract:
Begin: 4
End: 5

TECHNICAL ABSTRACT (Limit 2000 characters, approximately 200 words)
Electrodynamic tethers are optimally suited for use in Low-Earth-Orbit (LEO) to generate thrust or drag maneuver satellites. LEO region is polluted with space debris from the left over of rockets and abandoned satellites. It becomes important to clean them, i.e., de-orbit and ED tethers are promising for such applications. ED tethers are operating without propellants, so less polluting in our space and also cost-efficient. Tether powered satellites can operate in dual mode (thrust or power generation). Advanced PIC tools can perform self-consistent 2-D and 3-D tether simulations to study the plasma interactions and will improve the understanding of the self-induced magnetic field effects on the current collection ability of these ED tethers. These tools once validated using tether ribbon tape experiments can help NASA researchers to analyze various tether geometries in efforts to optimize tether design for space missions on a wide range of operating conditions.

POTENTIAL NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
ED tether plasma simulation tools will allow NASA researchers to determine the optimum tether design for space operations. The easy-to-use and user-friendly graphical user interface (GUI) plasma software from Tech-X is a viable high performance modeling tool for NASA to analyze the ED tether operation in LEO. Our validated numerical tool can significantly cut-down the expenses involved in running ground-based tether experiments. Similar tools are being already used for electric propulsion systems like NEXT ion thruster and Hall thrusters at NASA GRC. The fully electromagnetic capabilities in these codes make them ideal for modeling other advanced electric propulsion concepts like cathode less radio frequency (RF) ionization, micro size, nano size field emission and laser ablative propulsion.

POTENTIAL NON-NASA COMMERCIAL APPLICATIONS (Limit 1500 characters, approximately 150 words)
Tether satellite is important to other government agencies including the DoD/Air Force. Air Force considers tether powered satellite system for space operations. Our tools will support this effort while it can also be considered for Hall thruster and other advanced electric thruster concept programs at Air Force. Multi-billion dollar military and commercial satellite and aerospace industries such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, L-3 Communications, Northrop-Grumman, space research companies around the world have shown interest in using computational models to study the plasma characteristics around the tether structure. Also our tools are applicable to ion sources and plasma processing industries where increased performances are desired in terms of ion beam extraction and improved discharge efficiency via the effective predictions of plasma sheath structures.

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.)

Form Generated on 09-03-10 15:17