Development and Characterization of an Ion Source to Simulate Solar Wind Plasma in a Vacuum Chamber


As NASA and the United States look to return to the Moon with the upcoming Artemis Mission, many questions must first be answered. One of the more pressing issues with our return to the Moon is the environment that we will be looking to have extended missions on and one day mine. The Moon’s environment includes dusty plasma, i.e., plasma with fine regolith grains in it, and thus presents a danger to equipment and astronauts alike. In an attempt to learn more about the lunar environment, the Gas and Plasma Dynamics Laboratory (GPDL) at Missouri University of Science and Technology has begun preparing its facilities for experimentation. In this vain, an RF generated ion source has been fully integrated into the facility’s large scale vacuum chamber. Preliminary tests have been done with this RF source to show its functionality. In addition, an experimental analysis of the vacuum chamber’s four diffusion pumps has been done to determine the settling chamber pressure at various gas flow rates for each usable pump configuration. The mean free path was then calculated for each of these pump configurations in order to ensure the validity of the chamber’s experimental environment. At the conclusion of this work, the facility is ready for the installations of a full diagnostic probe array and will soon be ready for work with lunar regolith simulants.

Meeting Name

AIAA Scitech 2020 Forum (2020: Jan. 6-10, Orlando, FL)


Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Research Center/Lab(s)

Center for High Performance Computing Research

International Standard Book Number (ISBN)


Document Type

Article - Conference proceedings

Document Version


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Publication Date

10 Jan 2020