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Current Collection by a Long Wire in Near-Earth Orbit

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3 Author(s)

Investigation of the current collected by a long wire in space has application to long antennas and the proposed space shuttle tethered subsatellite. Langmuir's result for current collection by a moving probe in a plasma is used to obtain expressions for the voltage and current as functions of position along a wire. Two cases are considered: firstly, one end of the wire is grounded to the plasma and secondly, the wire is allowed to assume a natural grounding point. Results are obtained as a function of the wire resistivity, length and diameter for various particle densities. Calculations for a 2mm diameter copper wire show that a current of 0.066 amperes of oxygen ions will be collected by a tether of 10 km in length.

Published in:

IEEE Transactions on Plasma Science  (Volume:6 ,  Issue: 4 )