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Proceedings Paper

Satellite propulsion spectral signature detection and analysis through Hall effect thruster plume and atmospheric modeling
Author(s): Pamela Wheeler; Richard Cobb; Carl Hartsfield; Benjamin Prince
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Paper Abstract

Space Situational Awareness (SSA) is of utmost importance in today's congested and contested space environment. Satellites must perform orbital corrections for station keeping, devices like high efficiency electric propulsion systems such as a Hall effect thrusters (HETs) to accomplish this are on the rise. The health of this system is extremely important to ensure the satellite can maintain proper position and perform its intended mission. Electron temperature is a commonly used diagnostic to determine the efficiency of a hall thruster. Recent papers have coordinated near infrared (NIR) spectral measurements of emission lines in xenon and krypton to electron temperature measurements. Ground based observations of these spectral lines could allow the health of the thruster to be determined while the satellite is in operation. Another issue worth considering is the availability of SSA assets for ground-based observations. The current SSA architecture is limited and task saturated. If smaller telescopes, like those at universities, could successfully detect these signatures they could augment data collection for the SSA network. To facilitate this, precise atmospheric modeling must be used to pull out the signature. Within the atmosphere, the NIR has a higher transmission ratio and typical HET propellants are approximately 3x the intensity in the NIR versus the visible spectrum making it ideal for ground based observations. The proposed research will focus on developing a model to determine xenon and krypton signatures through the atmosphere and estimate the efficacy through ground-based observations. The model will take power modes, orbit geometries, and satellite altitudes into consideration and be correlated with lab and field observations.

Paper Details

Date Published: 19 September 2016
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 9974, Infrared Sensors, Devices, and Applications VI, 99740T (19 September 2016); doi: 10.1117/12.2238021
Show Author Affiliations
Pamela Wheeler, Air Force Institute of Technology (United States)
Richard Cobb, Air Force Institute of Technology (United States)
Carl Hartsfield, Air Force Institute of Technology (United States)
Benjamin Prince, Air Force Research Lab. (United States)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 9974:
Infrared Sensors, Devices, and Applications VI
Paul D. LeVan; Ashok K. Sood; Priyalal Wijewarnasuriya; Arvind I. D'Souza, Editor(s)

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