The Northern Colorado Astronomical Society is a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting the science of astronomy and to encourage and coordinate activities of amateur astronomers.

Download the Current Issue of the “Objective View” Newsletter: January 2018

February 1, 2018 - Featured Speaker: Dr. John D. Williams

Electric Propulsion (EP) on Satellites and Spacecraft

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Speaker Bio: Dr. John D. Williams is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at CSU. John held positions at Hughes Research Labs, the Boeing Electron Dynamics Division, and the Electric Propulsion Laboratory, Inc., for 11 years prior to coming to CSU in 2002 to become the director of the Center for Electric Propulsion and Plasma Engineering. His current research interests include advanced diagnostics systems for evaluation of the plasmas created within EP devices and in the plumes downstream of the devices, miniaturized ion and Hall thrusters, instant start hollow cathodes, and materials and fabrication techniques that reduce the cost of EP systems. One particularly exciting recent interest is an ongoing investigation of how hollow cathode components in EP systems can be used to 3D print structures from metal powders.
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Talk Abstract: The use of electric propulsion (EP) on satellites and spacecraft has become commonplace over the past 20 years. The most efficient systems utilize ion and Hall thrusters that range in power from 200 W to 5 kW. And these systems have been used in applications ranging from orbit raising, north-south station keeping, east-west station keeping of satellites in Earth orbit and in applications going to the moon and into deep space. Ion thrusters are currently being utilized on the NASA Dawn spacecraft that was launched in 2007. They have allowed DAWN to perform long-term, detailed investigations of the two largest asteroids, Ceres and Vesta, in the asteroid belt. The Center for Electric Propulsion and Plasma Engineering at Colorado State University was established in 1962; and faculty, research scientists, and students (currently enrolled and graduated) associated with the laboratory have been involved in nearly all past and present activities in EP that range from technology development to flight hardware development to mission planning and execution. Many graduates of the laboratory are leading EP efforts at NASA, Boeing, Hughes, Aerojet, Busek, SpaceX, and L3 Com. This talk will discuss the physics and technology associated with ion and Hall thrusters and showcase some of the recent research being conducted at CSU. The presentation will include many beautiful photographs of the plasmas that are created during the operation of EP devices.

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