Accurate and Efficient New Numerical Methods for Fluid Models in Plasma Physics
Electric propulsion for satellites is a technology that largely reduces the launch costs and provides reliable orbit control capabilities. Nevertheless, the design and development of plasmas thrusters is still semi-empirical and involves long and expensive life tests due to the complex, nonlinear physics of low-temperature plasmas, making its study an active field of research. In this project I will be collaborating with Prof. Ken Hara to develop innovative models and numerical methods to study the onset of plasma instabilities in magnetized configurations. Such instabilities induce plasma turbulence that reduces electron confinement in plasma thrusters, affecting their performances and making it difficult to predictively model the plasma dynamics. One of the challenges of simulating this type of plasmas is the wide disparity of time and spatial scales present in the problem. We aim at developing the so-called asymptotic-preserving methods applied to fluid moment models to simulate these plasma discharges accurately and efficiently. The potential gain of several orders of magnitude in terms of computational cost, could have a direct impact on the use of numerical simulations to design the next generation of plasma thrusters in industry.