Ground simulations of electron current to wide probes for electrodynamic tethers

Brian E. Gilchrist, Sven G. Bilén, Éric Choinière, Alec D. Gallimore, Daniel A. Herman

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review

1 Scopus citations


We describe chamber tests of simulated electro dynamic tethers (EDTs) of different geometries operating in a dense, high-speed plasma. The geometries tested and described here were cylindrical and flat-ribbon. Several important conclusions that can be drawn from the tests are as follows: the currents collected by cylinder are close to what would be predicted via orbital-motion-limited (OML) current collection theory. The tape tether had comparable current levels to a theoretical equal area OML cylinder collector. However, I-V behavior clearly is different at nearest distances (~ 16 λD tape width) as compared to furthest test distances (~ 6 λD tape width). The tape tether did better than a theoretical equal mass solid cylinder. A "knee" in the I-V curves can be seen in the tape data at a potential that is near the estimated energy of the incoming beam of ions, at least for the closest distances where Debye length is smallest. Below this knee the current increases rapidly as voltage is increased. Above the knee the current increases at a rate near that expected from OML current-collection models depending on the relative width. This likely is an example of high-speed plasma flow effect. Perpendicular tape orientation performed slightly better than parallel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 2001
Event37th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2001 - Salt Lake City, UT, United States
Duration: Jul 8 2001Jul 11 2001


Other37th Joint Propulsion Conference and Exhibit 2001
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySalt Lake City, UT

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Control and Systems Engineering
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Mechanical Engineering


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