Focusing plasma jets to achieve high current density: Feasibility and opportunities for applications in debris removal and space exploration

Igor Levchenko*, Oleg Baranov, Jinghua Fang, Oleksii Cherkun, Shuyan Xu, Kateryna Bazaka

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Rapid emergence of satellite-based economy coupled with the current renaissance in space exploration and aspirations for the Moon and Mars colonization drive strong interest in various techniques that may be adapted to space conditions and utilized for space debris disintegration and removal, as well as device maintenance and repair operations in open space. Dense plasma jets are a promising tool for many advanced applications. These can range from material processing to applying powerful effects of plasmas to targets to facilitate e.g. repair of material components in devices under field conditions or in space, as well as to enable destruction of objects for removal of debris from near-Earth space. Although there has been some effort in the use of strongly focused plasma jets in the aerospace technology, to date such a use is not widespread. In this work, we describe the experiments that demonstrate the possibility of focusing plasma jets into very high-current spots, where the current density reaches 5,000A×m−2 in a spot of about 5 mm. Depending on a specific configuration of focusing magnetic coils, the footprint of the focusing spot could be controlled over a wide range, from millimetres to centimetres, and the current density could be varied from hundreds to thousands A×m−2. We also briefly outline the possible applications of such systems, emphasising the possible use of such focused plasmas in space exploration technology. We expect that the suggested approach would be of considerable interest to many experts working in aerospace technology, and will stimulate new research directions in these fields.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number106343
    JournalAerospace Science and Technology
    Volume108
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2021

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