Enhanced electrodynamic tether currents due to electron emission from a neutral gas discharge

Results from the TSS-1R mission

B. E. Gilchrist, C. Bonifazi, Sven G. Bilen, W. J. Raitt, W. J. Burke, N. H. Stone, J. P. Lebreton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

20 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

During the reflight of the first electrodynamic Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R) mission, the unplanned separation of the tether at the Orbiter end resulted in the highest tether current during the mission. In the moments just prior to the tether separation with 19.7 km of tether deployed and a generated electromotive force (EMF) of 3482 V, currents reaching approximately 0.97 A were shunted through the tether to the Orbiter electrical ground, which was in contact with the ionosphere primarily through its main engine surfaces. This current level was nearly twice as large as observed during any nominal operating period. As the failure point of the tether entered into the ambient plasma, the current increased to 1.1 A and maintained this level even after the break for approximately 75 s. The principal surprise in these results was that the broken end of the tether, with only a few short strands of copper wire, could support higher currents than the much larger Orbiter conducting surface areas. Analysis of possible current enhancement mechanisms revealed that only a gas-enhanced electrical discharge, providing an electron emission source, was plausible. Ground plasma chamber tests confirmed this analysis. The TSS-1R results thus represent the highest electron current emission from a neutral plasma source yet demonstrated in a space plasma. This is of interest for current collection processes in general and plasma contactor development in particular.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)437-440
Number of pages4
JournalGeophysical Research Letters
Volume25
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 15 1998

Fingerprint

electrodynamics
neutral gases
gas discharges
electron emission
plasma
electron
gas
high current
tethered satellites
contactors
test chambers
space plasmas
electromotive forces
ionosphere
engine
strands
surface area
ionospheres
engines
copper

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Geophysics
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)

Cite this

Gilchrist, B. E. ; Bonifazi, C. ; Bilen, Sven G. ; Raitt, W. J. ; Burke, W. J. ; Stone, N. H. ; Lebreton, J. P. / Enhanced electrodynamic tether currents due to electron emission from a neutral gas discharge : Results from the TSS-1R mission. In: Geophysical Research Letters. 1998 ; Vol. 25, No. 4. pp. 437-440.
@article{10e0a9df81d64bbc802f3c96ac3ff766,
title = "Enhanced electrodynamic tether currents due to electron emission from a neutral gas discharge: Results from the TSS-1R mission",
abstract = "During the reflight of the first electrodynamic Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R) mission, the unplanned separation of the tether at the Orbiter end resulted in the highest tether current during the mission. In the moments just prior to the tether separation with 19.7 km of tether deployed and a generated electromotive force (EMF) of 3482 V, currents reaching approximately 0.97 A were shunted through the tether to the Orbiter electrical ground, which was in contact with the ionosphere primarily through its main engine surfaces. This current level was nearly twice as large as observed during any nominal operating period. As the failure point of the tether entered into the ambient plasma, the current increased to 1.1 A and maintained this level even after the break for approximately 75 s. The principal surprise in these results was that the broken end of the tether, with only a few short strands of copper wire, could support higher currents than the much larger Orbiter conducting surface areas. Analysis of possible current enhancement mechanisms revealed that only a gas-enhanced electrical discharge, providing an electron emission source, was plausible. Ground plasma chamber tests confirmed this analysis. The TSS-1R results thus represent the highest electron current emission from a neutral plasma source yet demonstrated in a space plasma. This is of interest for current collection processes in general and plasma contactor development in particular.",
author = "Gilchrist, {B. E.} and C. Bonifazi and Bilen, {Sven G.} and Raitt, {W. J.} and Burke, {W. J.} and Stone, {N. H.} and Lebreton, {J. P.}",
year = "1998",
month = "2",
day = "15",
doi = "10.1029/97GL03023",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "25",
pages = "437--440",
journal = "Geophysical Research Letters",
issn = "0094-8276",
publisher = "American Geophysical Union",
number = "4",

}

Enhanced electrodynamic tether currents due to electron emission from a neutral gas discharge : Results from the TSS-1R mission. / Gilchrist, B. E.; Bonifazi, C.; Bilen, Sven G.; Raitt, W. J.; Burke, W. J.; Stone, N. H.; Lebreton, J. P.

In: Geophysical Research Letters, Vol. 25, No. 4, 15.02.1998, p. 437-440.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - Enhanced electrodynamic tether currents due to electron emission from a neutral gas discharge

T2 - Results from the TSS-1R mission

AU - Gilchrist, B. E.

AU - Bonifazi, C.

AU - Bilen, Sven G.

AU - Raitt, W. J.

AU - Burke, W. J.

AU - Stone, N. H.

AU - Lebreton, J. P.

PY - 1998/2/15

Y1 - 1998/2/15

N2 - During the reflight of the first electrodynamic Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R) mission, the unplanned separation of the tether at the Orbiter end resulted in the highest tether current during the mission. In the moments just prior to the tether separation with 19.7 km of tether deployed and a generated electromotive force (EMF) of 3482 V, currents reaching approximately 0.97 A were shunted through the tether to the Orbiter electrical ground, which was in contact with the ionosphere primarily through its main engine surfaces. This current level was nearly twice as large as observed during any nominal operating period. As the failure point of the tether entered into the ambient plasma, the current increased to 1.1 A and maintained this level even after the break for approximately 75 s. The principal surprise in these results was that the broken end of the tether, with only a few short strands of copper wire, could support higher currents than the much larger Orbiter conducting surface areas. Analysis of possible current enhancement mechanisms revealed that only a gas-enhanced electrical discharge, providing an electron emission source, was plausible. Ground plasma chamber tests confirmed this analysis. The TSS-1R results thus represent the highest electron current emission from a neutral plasma source yet demonstrated in a space plasma. This is of interest for current collection processes in general and plasma contactor development in particular.

AB - During the reflight of the first electrodynamic Tethered Satellite System (TSS-1R) mission, the unplanned separation of the tether at the Orbiter end resulted in the highest tether current during the mission. In the moments just prior to the tether separation with 19.7 km of tether deployed and a generated electromotive force (EMF) of 3482 V, currents reaching approximately 0.97 A were shunted through the tether to the Orbiter electrical ground, which was in contact with the ionosphere primarily through its main engine surfaces. This current level was nearly twice as large as observed during any nominal operating period. As the failure point of the tether entered into the ambient plasma, the current increased to 1.1 A and maintained this level even after the break for approximately 75 s. The principal surprise in these results was that the broken end of the tether, with only a few short strands of copper wire, could support higher currents than the much larger Orbiter conducting surface areas. Analysis of possible current enhancement mechanisms revealed that only a gas-enhanced electrical discharge, providing an electron emission source, was plausible. Ground plasma chamber tests confirmed this analysis. The TSS-1R results thus represent the highest electron current emission from a neutral plasma source yet demonstrated in a space plasma. This is of interest for current collection processes in general and plasma contactor development in particular.

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=0031997920&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=0031997920&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.1029/97GL03023

DO - 10.1029/97GL03023

M3 - Article

VL - 25

SP - 437

EP - 440

JO - Geophysical Research Letters

JF - Geophysical Research Letters

SN - 0094-8276

IS - 4

ER -