Choueiri, Edgar Y. Electric Propulsion Laboratory, Engineering Quadrangle, Princeton University, Princeton, New Jersey.
- Types of plasma thrusters
- Pulsed plasma thrusters
- Propellants for plasma thrusters
- Plasma thruster use in space
- Links to Primary Literature
- Additional Readings
The imparting of thrust to a spacecraft through the acceleration of a plasma (ionized gas). A plasma can be accelerated by electrical means to exhaust velocities considerably higher than those attained by chemical rockets. The higher exhaust velocities (specific impulses) of plasma thrusters usually imply that, for a particular mission, the spacecraft would use less propellant than the amount required by conventional chemical rockets. This means that for the same amount of propellant a spacecraft propelled by a plasma rocket can increase in velocity over a set distance by an increment larger than that possible with a chemical propulsion system. An increasing number of near-Earth satellites have benefited from the propellant savings of plasma thrusters and rely on them for attitude control and station-keeping maneuvers. Generally, the larger the required velocity increment, the more beneficial is plasma propulsion compared to propulsion with rockets having lower exhaust velocities. Consequently, many ambitious missions—such as deep-space exploration including Moon tours and orbiters to outer planets, sample return missions, and heavy cargo and piloted missions—may be enabled by plasma propulsion. See also: Plasma (physics); Specific impulse
The content above is only an excerpt.
for your institution. Subscribe
To learn more about subscribing to AccessScience, or to request a no-risk trial of this award-winning scientific reference for your institution, fill in your information and a member of our Sales Team will contact you as soon as possible.
to your librarian. Recommend
Let your librarian know about the award-winning gateway to the most trustworthy and accurate scientific information.
AccessScience provides the most accurate and trustworthy scientific information available.
Recognized as an award-winning gateway to scientific knowledge, AccessScience is an amazing online resource that contains high-quality reference material written specifically for students. Contributors include more than 9000 highly qualified scientists and 43 Nobel Prize winners.
MORE THAN 8700 articles covering all major scientific disciplines and encompassing the McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science & Technology and McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science & Technology
115,000-PLUS definitions from the McGraw-Hill Dictionary of Scientific and Technical Terms
3000 biographies of notable scientific figures
MORE THAN 19,000 downloadable images and animations illustrating key topics
ENGAGING VIDEOS highlighting the life and work of award-winning scientists
SUGGESTIONS FOR FURTHER STUDY and additional readings to guide students to deeper understanding and research
LINKS TO CITABLE LITERATURE help students expand their knowledge using primary sources of information