Plasma brake deorbiting simulation using dynamic space environment

P. Peitso, V. Vilenius, P. Yli-Opas, Swati Thirumangalath

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference article in proceedingsScientific


We present a satellite deorbiting simulator with focus on the novel deorbiting technology of the plasma brake, which utilizes the Coulomb interaction between a charged tether and plasma flow to generate thrust. The plasma brake force is tied to atmospheric variables by plasma density while the aero drag force is related to atmospheric density. These parameters vary significantly: from high and low solar activity due to the 11 year solar cycle, to seasonal changes (Russell-McPherron effect) as well as between day and night due to solar illumination. Space environment variables are obtained from NRLMSISE and IRI2016 atmosphere and ionosphere simulators respectively. The atmosphere is separated into 10 km altitude segments. Results show the simulator to give quite realistic estimates on Coulomb drag deorbit. The plasma brake is a very efficient deorbiting tool at altitudes of over 500 km, while at lower orbits atmospheric drag dominates.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publication7th Edition of the space propulsion conference, SP2020 +1
PublisherAssociation Aéronautique et Astronautique de France (3AF)
Number of pages7
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2021
MoE publication typeB3 Non-refereed article in conference proceedings
Event7th Space Propulsion 2020+1 Conference - Virtual
Duration: 17 Mar 202119 Mar 2021


Conference7th Space Propulsion 2020+1 Conference


  • dorbit
  • micro tether
  • plasma brake
  • depris removal


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