- ACTA ASTRONAUTICA Journal
- May 2018
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- This paper presents a study of the interaction between a spacecraft, a plasma thruster plume and a free floating object, in the context of an active space debris removal mission based on the ion beam shepherd concept. The analysis is performed with the EP2PLUS hybrid code and includes the evaluation of the transferred force and torque to the target debris, its surface sputtering due to the impinging hypersonic ions, and the equivalent electric circuit of the spacecraft-plasma-debris interaction. The electric potential difference that builds up between the spacecraft and the debris, the ion backscattering and the backsputtering contamination of the shepherd satellite are evaluated for a nominal scenario. A sensitivity analysis is carried out to evaluate quantitatively the effects of electron thermodynamics, ambient plasma, heavy species collisions, and debris position.
- plasma plumes; hybrid; particle-in-cell; ion beam shepherd; active debris removal; sputtering