NTRS - NASA Technical Reports Server

Back to Results
A two-dimensional theory of plasma contactor clouds used in the ionosphere with an electrodynamic tetherPlasma contactors have been proposed as a means of making good electrical contact between biased surfaces such as found at the ends of an electrodynamic tether and the space environment. A plasma contactor is a plasma source which emits a plasma cloud which facilitates the electrical connection. The physics of this plasma cloud is investigated for contactors used as electron collectors and it is shown that contactor clouds in space will consist of a spherical core possibly containing a shock wave. Outside of the core the cloud will expand anisotropically across the magnetic field leading to a turbulent cigar shape structure along the field. This outer region is itself divided into two regions by the ion response to the electric field. A two-dimensional theory of the motion of the cloud across the magnetic field is developed. The current voltage characteristic of an Argon plasma contactor cloud is estimated for several ion currents in the range of 1-100 Amperes. It is shown that small ion current contactors are more efficient than large ion current contactors. This suggests that if a plasma contactor is used on an electrodynamic tether then a miltiple tether array will be more efficient than a single tether.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Hastings, D. E.
(Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Gatsonis, N. A.
(Massachusetts Inst. of Tech. Cambridge, MA, United States)
Rivas, D. A.
(MIT Cambridge, MA, United States)
Date Acquired
August 14, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1988
Subject Category
Plasma Physics
Meeting Information
Meeting: Intl. Conference on Space Tethers for Science in the Space Station Era
Location: Venice
Country: Italy
Start Date: October 4, 1987
End Date: October 8, 1987
Accession Number
Funding Number(s)
Distribution Limits

Available Downloads

There are no available downloads for this record.
No Preview Available