Vol.29 No.4(4) [2007]

Performance Evaluation of Magneto Plasma Sail by using a Numerical Simulation

Yoshihiro KAJIMURA, Daisuke SHINOHARA, Kenji NODA and Hideki NAKASHIMA


A Magneto Plasma Sail (MPS) produces propulsive force by the interaction between the solar wind and an artificial magnetic field inflated by injecting plasma. In this paper, a performance evaluation of MPS which is expected to have high thrust to power ratio and high specific impulse compared with other electric propulsion systems is conducted. Two key issues in the field of MPS research are studied; one is the interaction between the solar wind and dipolar magnetic field. The thrust obtained from the interaction between very small magnetosphere (〜4km) and the solar wind is estimated by the numerical simulation. The other issue is the magnetic inflation by injecting plasma from the boundary of the superconducting coil. Numerical simulations of magnetic inflation for the cases with different beta value are conducted by using hybrid simulation code. Then the inflation of magnetic field is evaluated quantitatively and the configuration of magnetic field after the plasma is injected at an angle of 30° in the polar direction is examined. Finally, the performance evaluation and feasibility of MPS are discussed.