This paper presents a feasibility study conducted to evaluate the possibility of applying an helicon-double-layer plasma-thruster on UNISAT-class micro-satellite. UNISAT satellites are designed, built and operate in orbit by students, researchers and professors of GAUSS. In the framework of this program four satellite have already been launched (2 years apart one from the other, starting in 2000) by the Baykonour Cosmodrome and a fifth satellite is scheduled to be launched in the 2008. Helicon double layer thruster is an innovative type of plasma thruster firstly proposed by Australian National University (ANU) based on helicon plasma source and Double-layer effect.The paper firstly presents the analysis conducted at GAUSS (Group of Astrodynamics of University "La Sapienza"of Rome ) on UNISAT in order to evaluate the available mass budget, volume budget and power budget. Moreover, the minimum required thruster-performances which can be measured using the available instrumentation onboard UNISAT have been assessed. The main requirements of the propulsion system are: thrust 1mN, specific impulse higher than 1000 s, weight lower than 2kg, volume lower than 1 dm3. Then the thruster has been designed firstly applying a global-model of the helicon source and 1-D PIC code operated by a genetic algorithms in order to identify the best optimum thruster configuration ( respect to system requirements, constrains and performances) and finally using a 2-D PIC code in order to verify and refine thruster performances. Copyright 2007 by the IAF or the IAA. All rights reserved.
Feasibility study of mini RF-helicon-double-layer plasma thruster for microsatellite propulsion / Santoni, Fabio; Piergentili, Fabrizio; M., Manente; I., Musso; D., Pavarin. - STAMPA. - 9:(2007), pp. 5830-5839. ((Intervento presentato al convegno 58th International Astronautical Congress 2007 tenutosi a Hyderabad nel 24 September 2007 through 28 September 2007.