Propulsive Force in an Electric Solar Sail



An electric solar sail (e-sail) is a promising propellantless propulsion concept for the exploration of the Solar System. An e-sail consists of an array of bare conductive tethers at very high positive/negative bias, capable of extracting solar-wind momentum by Coulomb deflection of protons. The present work focuses on the positivebias case with a potential profile that must be correctly modeled. Ion scattering does occur at some point of the profile and the resulting thrust is determined; that thrust scales slower with distance to the Sun, than it was previously suggested in the literature. (© 2014 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim)