Skip to Main Content
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.
Date of Publication: Dec. 1978