Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard D. Branam, PhD


Satellite designing trend is progressing towards building smaller satellites. Small satellites require micro propulsion devices for accurate control by the propulsion system. Micro-Pulsed Plasma Thrusters (μPPTs) are highly reliable and simple micro propulsion systems that will offer attitude control, station keeping, constellation flying, and drag compensation for such satellites. As an unfortunate side effect, the plume induces contamination on spacecraft surfaces and may lead to significant problems with sensors and power generation. Solid particulates in the exhaust plume may deposit on spacecraft instrument and the solar array surfaces limiting or reducing the mission capability as well as the lifetime of a satellite. To better understand these contamination issues, a detailed characterization of the exhaust plume is necessary. This research employs μPPTs, first developed at the Air Force Research Lab at Edwards AFB, CA, and is being operated in a simulated space environment, at the Air Force Institute of Technology micro-propulsion vacuum facilities.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number