A report presents a computational study of a proposed plasma thruster for a spacecraft. The behavior of the plasma was computationally simulated by use of a mathematical model of magnetohydrodynamic flow implemented in the previously developed MACH2 computer program. To increase the accuracy of modeling of the magnetic field, MACH2 was modified by providing for an arbitrary number of current loops used to generate the applied magnetic field and by splitting the total magnetic field into applied and plasma-induced components. The results of the computational simulations contribute to understanding of the appropriate parameter regimes for the electron beam, the in-flowing working fluid, and the applied magnetic field.

This work was done by Michael H. Frese, John J. Watrous, and Richard A. Gerwin of NumerEx for Marshall Space Flight Center. To obtain a copy of the report, "A Fusion-Driven Earth to Orbit Thruster," access the Technical Support Package (TSP) free on-line at www.nasatech.com/tsp  under the Physical Sciences category.


NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the February, 2001 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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