Plasma in Atmospheric Reentries

Julie Ben Zenou

Plasma is one of the four fundamental states of matter and is by far the most abundant one in the universe. It is ionized gas and has several applications including space travel and more precisely space propulsion. While visiting the Stanford Plasma Physics Laboratory under the supervision of Professor Mark Cappelli, I will continue an ongoing project by operating a Hall thruster with air. This thruster displaces electron with a magnetic field to ionize the air creating a plasma. This formed air plasma is finally accelerated by an electric field. Such thrusters have a lighter thrust than chemical ones and are mostly used to adjust and control a satellite position or for the propulsion of space probes. I will study this thruster by measuring some of its characteristics (created thrust, specific impulse). I will also examine the accelerated plasma by spectroscopy. This will leverage my previous work in the EM2C laboratory in CentraleSupélec (French engineering school) where I helped improve a spectrum simulation code. It will thus initiate a new collaborative work between the EM2C and the Stanford Plasma Physics Laboratory.


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