A Plasma Propulsion Concept Based on Direct Ion Acceleration with Beating Electrostatic Waves
A new concept for plasma propulsion that relies on using beating electrostatic wave (BEW) direct ion acceleration to augment the linear ion current produced in a plasma by a rectilinear, magnetic slope configuration is presented and analyzed. The types of particle trajectories possible in a magnetic slope configuration are identified and shown to produce a net flow in a thermalized ion ensemble. The ability of BEW to augment this flow in the magnetic null direction by direct acceleration, as opposed to ion heating, is subsequently demonstrated and a thruster concept that relies on this process is described. It is expected that the direct ion acceleration would yield a propulsive performance that is superior to that obtained by concepts that rely on plasma heating, which suffer from relatively high wall losses.