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Proceedings Paper

Characteristics of volume expansion of laser plasma for efficient propulsion
Author(s): Shigeaki Uchida; Kazuhisa Hashimoto; Kazuhisa Fujita; Masayuki Niino; Takashi Ashizuka; Nobuki Kawashima
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Paper Abstract

Laser propulsion has many advantages over other conventional methods of producing thrust in space applications. For example, laser energy can be delivered to a remote objects such as space debris which otherwise is impossible to make thrust on its surfaces to remove from the orbits. However, essential advantage of laser propulsion lies in the fact that the characteristics of laser propulsion can be controlled over wide range of parameters by changing laser irradiation conditions. This advantage is based on the capability of controlling specific energy carried by propellant. The specific energy is a key parameter of thrust performance since it determines the propellant temperature or expanding velocity and thus propulsion efficiency. A number of researches so far conducted have treated laser plasma interactions created on solid surfaces with laser parameters such as wavelength, pulse width, intensity, as well as ambient gas pressure. The present study will give a new insight to laser plasma interactions and/or new mechanism of laser thrust generation. Laser energy is deposited inside solid target and, as an initial condition, confined by solid material. Since the confinement time is an order of milli-second, both shock waves and thermal conduction can tale part in the energy transfer process and therefore, give more controllable parameters over the thrust characteristics. In this manner, specific energy carried by target material or propellant can be controlled by changing the depth of energy deposition region. This will give a new dimension of controlling laser plasma characteristics for laser propulsion. In this paper, experimental results and physical insights will be presented as to propelled mass and velocity dependence on laser energy and temporal behavior of impulse generation, as well as enhancement of impact generation over the conventional ablation scheme.

Paper Details

Date Published: 13 September 2002
PDF: 11 pages
Proc. SPIE 4760, High-Power Laser Ablation IV, (13 September 2002); doi: 10.1117/12.482036
Show Author Affiliations
Shigeaki Uchida, Osaka Univ. (Japan)
Kazuhisa Hashimoto, Osaka Univ. (Japan)
Kazuhisa Fujita, Japan Science and Technology Corp. (Japan)
Masayuki Niino, National Aerospace Lab. (Japan)
Takashi Ashizuka, Kinki Univ. (Japan)
Nobuki Kawashima, Kinki Univ. (Japan)

Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 4760:
High-Power Laser Ablation IV
Claude R. Phipps, Editor(s)

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