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Proceedings Paper

Designed polymers for laser-based microthrusters: correlation of thrust with material, plasma, and shockwave properties (Plenary Paper)
Author(s): Lukas Urech; Marc Hauer; Thomas Lippert; Claude R. Phipps; Esther Schmid; Alexander Wokaun; Ingrid Wysong
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Paper Abstract

The micro laser plasma thruster (μLPT) is a micropropulsion device, designed for the steering and propelling of small satellites (10 to 100 kg). A diode laser is focused on a two-layer polymer tape, where it forms a plasma. The thrust produced by this plasma is used to control the satellite motion. Three different polymers (GAP, PVN and PVC) doped with carbon and/or IR-dye were investigated for their performance as fuel polymer. The different dopants for GAP seem to have only little influence in the ablation properties. The most pronounced differences are observed in the fragment ejection detected in the shadowgraphy measurements and the crater appearance. For all carbon doped polymers, the ablation spots have a similar rough morphology. The shadowgraphy measurements of PVN reveal, that the shockwave and particle plume propagates faster as in the case of the other polymers. The particle plumes showed a very different expansion behavior for all polymers, whereas the plasma temperature and electron density measurements showed no significant difference. Only PVC displayed a slower almost linear drop of the plasma temperature over time. The thrust measurements showed the best results for GAP.

Paper Details

Date Published: 20 September 2004
PDF: 13 pages
Proc. SPIE 5448, High-Power Laser Ablation V, (20 September 2004); doi: 10.1117/12.544771
Show Author Affiliations
Lukas Urech, Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland)
Marc Hauer, Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland)
Thomas Lippert, Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland)
Claude R. Phipps, Photonic Associates (United States)
Esther Schmid, Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland)
Alexander Wokaun, Paul Scherrer Institut (Switzerland)
Ingrid Wysong, European Office of Aerospace Research & Development (United Kingdom)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 5448:
High-Power Laser Ablation V
Claude R. Phipps, Editor(s)

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