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Paper: Physics of Thrust Prediction of the Solar Wind Electric Sail Propulsion System
Volume: 429, Numerical Modeling of Space Plasma Flows, Astronum-2009
Page: 187
Authors: Janhunen, P.
Abstract: The electric solar wind sail is a newly invented way for using the solar wind dynamic pressure for providing thrust for a spacecraft. An electric sail spacecraft deploys long, thin, conducting tethers which are centrifugally stretched and kept in a high positive potential by an onboard electron gun. Scientifically, the essential problem is to predict the thrust force per unit length that the plasma stream exerts on the tether when the tether is kept in a 15-40 kV voltage. Recently, theoretical arguments were put forward which suggest that trapped electrons are almost completely absent from the electric sail. In view of these arguments, we make here the assumption that trapped electrons are absent and proceed to derive a simplified analytical thrust formula. This formula predicts about five times higher electric sail thrust than the original estimates which included trapped electrons.
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