eesti teaduste
akadeemia kirjastus
SINCE 1952
Proceeding cover
of the estonian academy of sciences
ISSN 1736-7530 (Electronic)
ISSN 1736-6046 (Print)
Impact Factor (2020): 1.045

Accommodating the plasma brake experiment on-board the Aalto-1 satellite; pp. 258–266

Full article in PDF format | doi: 10.3176/proc.2014.2S.07

Osama Khurshid, Tuomas Tikka, Jaan Praks, Martti Hallikainen


This paper presents an overview and the current status of hosting the electrostatic plasma brake (EPB) experiment onboard the Finnish Aalto-1 satellite. The goal of the experiment is to demonstrate the use of an electrostatically charged tether for satellite attitude and orbital maneuvers. The plasma brake device is based on electrostatic solar sail concept, invented in Finnish Meteorological Institute (FMI). The electrostatic solar sail is designed to utilize the solar wind charged particles to propel the spacecraft by using long conductive tethers, surrounded by electrostatic field. Similar phenomenon can be used in low Earth orbit plasma environment, where the relative motion between the electrostatically charged tether and the ionospheric plasma can produce a significant amount of drag. This drag can be utilized for deorbiting the satellite. The Aalto-1, a multi-payload CubeSat, will carry, among others, the plasma brake payload. Plasma brake payload consists of a 100 m long conductive tether, a reel mechanism for tether storage, a high voltage source, and electron guns to maintain the tether charge. The experiment will be performed in positive and negative tether charge modes and includes a long term passive deorbiting mode. The experiment hardware, the satellite mission and different phases of the experiment are presented.



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