A kinetic description of electron beam ejection from spacecraft



A model based on the Boltzmann kinetic equation describing electron beam ejection from spacecraft is presented. Results are shown for steady-state, beam-atmosphere interaction (BAI) and for beam-plasma interaction (BPI). The BPI considered is that of elastic scattering of beam electrons with strong, short-scale Langmuir turbulence. This mechanism has been suggested for prompt echoes of beam electrons observed in sounding rocket experiments. It is shown that the interaction is sufficiently strong to account for observations of back-scattered electrons at the beam accelerator energy. However, it is clear from observations that particles undergo diffusion in energy at a rate exeeding levels expected for BAI. Inelastic scattering in BPI must therefore also be important.