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Active control of potential of the geosynchronous satellites ATS-5 and ATS-6The ATS-6 geosynchronous satellite carries two cesium ion thrusters as part of the technology experiment package. Their effectiveness in controlling the spacecraft potential was shown during normal operation of the thrusters. Auroral particle detectors were used to estimate spacecraft potential, amount of cesium propellant backflow to the spacecraft, and electron signature of the thruster. Operation of the thruster clamps the spacecraft to about -10 v in the presence of a wide range of ambient particle flux. Some positive ions from the thruster are returned to the spacecraft during this period. The plasma bridge neutralizer of the thruster is also effective in controlling the spacecraft potential. Laboratory simulation tests of the ATS-5 ion thruster thermionic emitter neutralizer showed that negative differential charging on the spacecraft surface probably prevents the emitter from completely discharging the spacecraft in flight.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Goldstein, R.
(Jet Propulsion Lab., California Inst. of Tech. Pasadena, CA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 9, 2013
Publication Date
February 24, 1977
Publication Information
Publication: Proc. of the Spacecraft Charging Technol. Conf.
Subject Category
Launch Vehicles And Space Vehicles
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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