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Simulations of Ion Thruster Plume–Spacecraft Interactions on Parallel Supercomputer

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5 Author(s)
Wang, J. ; Dept. of Aerosp. & Ocean Eng., Virginia Polytech. Inst. & State Univ., Blacksburg, VA ; Yong Cao ; Kafafy, R. ; Pierru, J.
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A parallel three-dimensional electrostatic Particle-In-Cell (PIC) code is developed for large-scale simulations of ion thruster plume-spacecraft interactions on parallel supercomputers. This code is based on a newly developed immersed finite-element (IFE) PIC. The IFE-PIC is designed to handle complex boundary conditions accurately while maintaining the computational speed of the standard PIC code. Domain decomposition is used in both field solve and particle push to divide the computation among processors. A high-resolution simulation of multiple ion thruster plume interactions for a realistic spacecraft using a domain enclosing the entire solar array panel is carried out to demonstrate the capability of the code. A standard finite-difference PIC (FD-PIC) code is also parallelized for comparison. Both the IFE-PIC and FD-PIC run with similar overall speed, and the IFE-PIC achieves a high parallel efficiency of ges 90%

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Plasma Science, IEEE Transactions on  (Volume:34 ,  Issue: 5 )