sh1pman

Magnetoshell aerocapture technology CubeSat test!

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So I've found this interesting article about the upcoming test of the Magnetoshell Aerocapture. Long story short, this technology involves the use of a large magnetized plasma bubble around the spacecraft to cause drag and shield it from heat flux. It can even be used to safely decelerate interplanetary ships and probes on hyperbolic trajectories for aerocapture or landing, without the need for a heat shield. It is said that the energy requirements are very modest, so no nuclear reactor is necessary.

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And apparently, there is a CubeSat flight planned to test this technology in space. Some quotes from the article:

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The neutral particles are captured by a sphere of low-beta dipole plasma external to the spacecraft. The deceleration is achieved through charge exchange (CEX) interactions between thermal ions in the magnetoshell with atmospheric neutrals. The fast and directed neutrals in the atmosphere are converted into ions and impart their momentum on the spacecraft through field line bending. In the process, thermal ions are converted into slow moving neutrals, in effect decelerating the atmospheric neutrals. Since the device uses the ambient neutrals as its propellant, it requires virtually no fuel on-board except for startup and sustainment. The only true requirement for this device is the on-board electric power. 

 

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There are several advantages to Magnetoshell Aerocapture (MAC) that position it as a revolutionary tool for interplanetary exploration. Aerocapture has been studied extensively as an application to deep space missions, but it has been never implemented because of the intense thermal loads. However, magnetoshells operate at much lower densities than traditionally conceived aerocapture systems because the dipole’s collection radius can be made arbitrarily large. The benefit of this is two-fold: the frictional heat is dumped into the plasma rather than the spacecraft while the structural load on sensitive components like solar panels is kept to safe levels. This eliminates the need for heavy TPS and risky low-altitude trajectories. MAC can also attain variable force and instant on/off capability to mitigate uncertainties in the target atmosphere. As a result, MAC resolves the trade-offs between available orbit insertion techniques: it offers the dynamic control and diverse application of modern EP while providing the mission-enabling mass and cost benefits of aerocapture. 

 

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To mature MAC to the mid–high TRL range, a series of demonstrations and incremental applications will be performed. The sub-kW CubeSat de-orbit flight to be completed within three years will achieve TRL 6. Pending successful demonstration in an orbital environment, a full-scale test will be deployed to characterize a realistic magnetoshell on the scale of 5 m in size, 10 kW power level, and 1.5 kN of force. Further application in the next ten years will see an ISS payload returned using a magnetoshell, bringing MAC to TRL 8. This will position it well for immediate use in Mars cargo delivery, as NASA intends to apply aerocapture technologies without the need to flight-qualify them in the Martian atmosphere.8 Due to the scalability of the magnetoshell subsystem, this roadmap is easily achievable within a decade of mastering the associated engineering challenges. 

 

Mission profile for the Cubesat test:

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C. Neptune and Beyond

Little is understood about the furthest planet in the Solar System. Much effort has been put into designing probes that would explore Neptune,13–15 yet no probe has been sent because it is prohibitively expensive for little science return. However, analysis has shown that aerocapture is the enabling technology for visiting the gas giant, increasing delivered mass by 800%.4 Using only a 2 meter radius magnetoshell in place of kinetic decelerators increases the payload mass by a further 75%. Using MAC improves such a mission by a full order of magnitude, turning it from an impossibility into a trivial probe. Similar missions employing aerocapture at Venus16, 17 and Titan18, 19 would see great returns from the use of MAC. In this way, MAC is truly a game-changing technology that unlocks many missions without the need for far-future launch and propulsion ca- pabilities. 

Article itself: https://iepc2017.org/sites/default/files/speaker-papers/iepc_youngvisionary_shimazukelly_iepc_2017_600.pdf

Edited by sh1pman

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The magnetoshell demonstrated a relative drag of 1000 times the case without turning the magnetoshell on, confirming its drag-inducing characteristics. 

Can we just call this thing a force field? It's about time we had force fields!

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Cool! Something i can use in my Sci-Fi!

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If it would work, I think it can be usable to some bigger proposed ships? (I'm looking at you, BFR!)

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8 minutes ago, Toonu said:

If it would work, I think it can be usable to some bigger proposed ships? (I'm looking at you, BFR!)

I've read somewhere that a 2,5m magnet can create a plasma shield with a diameter of 21m, which is enough to safely capture and land a Mars lander with 60 tons of cargo. The plasma shield itself can be scaled up to 100 m, so capturing a BFR should definitely be possible.

Also, this:

"Another benefit of using MAC to transport manned cargo is transit time. Since the magnetoshell can scale to handle much larger entry velocities than traditional propulsion, direct trajectories can be taken that cut exposure to deep-space radiation by many factors. Thus, MAC serves both as a safer, lighter drop-in replacement of the aerocapture in existing Mars architectures and also as an enabler of new mission architectures that were not possible with present day technologies. Indeed, MAC takes a giant leap towards making sustainable avenues to Mars realistic."

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Doesn't this greatly depend on the magnetosphere of the planet?  A spacecraft that can use this to be captured by Earth might not be captured by Mars at all.  I hope Voyager (didn't only two visit Neptune?)  measured the magnetosphere.

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Just now, wumpus said:

Doesn't this greatly depend on the magnetosphere of the planet?  A spacecraft that can use this to be captured by Earth might not be captured by Mars at all.  I hope Voyager (didn't only two visit Neptune?)  measured the magnetosphere.

No, you don't need magnetosphere for that. The drag occurs due to charge exchange interaction between the plasma trapped in the magnetic field and a stream of neutral particles from planet's atmosphere.

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Anyways, im very exited for this, this sounds so cool and Sci-Fi.

Is this not how they also keep plasma from going everywhere in during fusion?

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3 minutes ago, NSEP said:

Anyways, im very exited for this, this sounds so cool and Sci-Fi.

Is this not how they also keep plasma from going everywhere in during fusion?

You mean inside fusion reactors? Yea, probably. 

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Just now, sh1pman said:

You mean inside fusion reactors? Yea, probably. 

Yeah thats what i meant. 

Well, thats amazing! Looking forward to the results of the mission?

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2 hours ago, NSEP said:

Yeah thats what i meant. 

Well, thats amazing! Looking forward to the results of the mission?

Magnets are used in fusion reactor so the plasma does not touch the interior walls and melt it. 

A Lab here in the UK and other places are researching in using magnets for magnetic shielding spacecraft. 

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727701-300-shields-up-force-fields-could-protect-mars-missions/ 

http://www.minimagnetosphere.rl.ac.uk/

 

Edited by RAJ JAR

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37 minutes ago, RAJ JAR said:

Magnets are used in fusion reactor so the plasma does not touch the interior walls and melt it. 

A Lab here in the UK and other places are researching in using magnets for magnetic shielding spacecraft. 

https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg20727701-300-shields-up-force-fields-could-protect-mars-missions/ 

http://www.minimagnetosphere.rl.ac.uk/

 

Thanks for sharing, very interesting!

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Wow! I need to do some reading. I had no idea.

I'd be willing to bet that this will be a very valuable technology precursor to Bussard Ramjets.

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On 11/2/2017 at 7:03 AM, sh1pman said:

You mean inside fusion reactors? Yea, probably. 

except in that case you are trying to contain charged particles vs repel neutrals. magnets are fun.

Edited by Nuke

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Just now, Nuke said:

except in that case you are trying to contain charged particles vs repel neutrals. 

You don't repel neutrals, you make them collide with charged particles trapped in your magnetic field.

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Just now, sh1pman said:

You don't repel neutrals, you make them collide with charged particles trapped in your magnetic field.

oooh thats even more fun!

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On 11/3/2017 at 6:13 AM, FleshJeb said:

Wow! I need to do some reading. I had no idea.

I'd be willing to bet that this will be a very valuable technology precursor to Bussard Ramjets.

It would be interesting to see some math then I might be able to integrate into KSPIE Bussard Ramjets Magnetic scoop

2LfK9fy.png

Edited by FreeThinker

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On 11/3/2017 at 1:13 AM, FleshJeb said:

Wow! I need to do some reading. I had no idea.

I'd be willing to bet that this will be a very valuable technology precursor to Bussard Ramjets.

 

 

22 minutes ago, FreeThinker said:

It would be interesting to see some math then I might be able to integrate into Interstellar Bussard Ramjets Magnetic scoop

Ohhh, yes. If you or someone better at math/physics than me can explain this at some point on another thread, that would be awesome :D

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8 minutes ago, Spaceception said:

 

Ohhh, yes. If you or someone better at math/physics than me can explain this at some point on another thread, that would be awesome :D

Well I admit the calculation of the drag on the ship currently is a bit simplistic which is:

 drag = ion density per square meter  * diameter surface area magnetic magnetosphere * speed vessel

Still it better anything else.

Notice if you attempt to use the Magnetic scoop near the atmosphere, it will rip the ship apart due to the extreme drag gee forces. I guess that means it works

Edited by FreeThinker

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@FreeThinker There is one more thing, plasma ball gets blown away if ambient pressure is too high. So there’s a limitation on how deep in the atmoshpere you can be to be able to use magnetoshell.

Edited by sh1pman

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Ok, so where are the ions coming from?  Does the spacecraft need to bring a supply of xenon like a ion thruster?  Could some kind of permanent magnet be uses to keep this ion cloud in place?

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