Abstract: Electric Propulsion (EP) brings many benefits for missions requiring significant changes in vehicle velocity due to the reduced propellant use, even as additional electronics tax the satellite mass and volume. EP would enable interesting astronomy, communications and exploration missions by providing small and relatively inexpensive spacecraft with station keeping, orbital transfer and deep-space travel capabilities. However, most EP technologies are challenging to miniaturize to the required levels, especially for nano/pico-satellites. In this talk we discuss these physical challenges and will describe the ion Electrospray Propulsion System (iEPS) as an example of an EP technology amenable for efficient miniaturization. Electrosprays are devices that produce emission and acceleration of charged particles from an electrically conductive liquid. The main benefit is their intrinsic small size, clustering potential in parallel MEMS-based arrays and high efficiency. In particular, the iEPS concept relies on the emission of molecular ions to produce thrust. Such configuration minimizes mass and volume allowing their use in spacecraft as small as the popular 1 kg CubeSats.
Bio: Paulo Lozano is the M. Aleman-Velasco Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), the Director of the Space Propulsion Laboratory and Faculty Director of the MIT-Mexico Program. His main interests are plasma physics, space propulsion, ion beam physics, small satellites and nanotechnology. His research features the development of highly efficient and compact ion thrusters for applications in space systems, including pico- and nano-satellites. He received the Young Investigator Program Award from the US Air Force for his work on micro-propulsion and the “Future-Mind” award from Quo Science Magazine and the Discovery Channel. Dr. Lozano’s research has been sponsored by NASA, DARPA, AFOSR, AFRL, NSF and other government and private sources. He has received the Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award for his contributions to the research experience of undergraduate students at MIT. Dr. Lozano has authored over 10 patents and 100 conference and journal publications. He teaches subjects in space and rocket propulsion, fluid mechanics and plasma physics. Dr. Lozano is an Associate Fellow of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), and member of the American Physical Society (APS) and of the Electric Rocket Propulsion Society (ERPS). He was awarded the 2016 AIAA’s Technical Achievement Award for the development of the ion electrospray propulsion system (iEPS) and has served as a member on several study committees of the National Research Council at the National Academies, including the Asteroid Threat Mitigation, NASA Technology Roadmaps and Achieving Scientific Goals with CubeSats. Prof. Lozano earned his SM in Aeronautics and Astronautics and PhD degree in Space Propulsion from MIT.
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