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Keywords:

  • E-sail;
  • plasma;
  • propulsion;
  • bare tether

Abstract

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)