Skip to main content
Skip to article control options
AIAA 2023-1406
Session: Micropropulsion II
Published Online:

View Video Presentation:

Electrospray thrusters fulfill the main propulsion requirements for long-term small-satellite missions. However, the molecules present in the plume are susceptible to collision, chemical reaction, and fragmentation, which may introduce different new species with various mass-to- charge ratios inside the plume. Prediction of the byproducts that appear upon collisions is of prime importance to predicting the evolution of the plume and estimating the performance and the lifetime expectancy of the thruster. In this work, we use molecular dynamics simulations to investigate monomer-neutral collisions at different impact configurations, impact energies, and impact parameters, and provide the mass spectra of the resulting species. We predict that: (1) collisions within a center-of-mass distance of 6 Å can result in momentum exchange and molecular dissociation, (2) higher energy impacts produce more byproducts, and (3) heavy molecules (e.g., EMI and BF4) are more likely to result from weak collisions (< 30 eV), whereas light molecules (e.g., H, F and CH3) are more likely to result from strong collisions.