Symmetric theory of probeplasma interactions
Abstract
The theory of interactions between a probe and the surrounding plasma at rest is developed in a spherically and in a cylindrically symmetric model (probe theory). The theory is based on the VlasovPoisson system; a general numerical program was developed to solve this system by means of an iterative procedure. Various ambient plasma and charged particle emission properties are described by the complete set of boundary conditions for the distribution functions in the phase space. By use of this numerical method, potential and space charge density in the whole surroundings of the probe as well as the current densities of all plasma constituents are calculated selfconsistently. Furthermore, the regions of the phase space with particle trajectories of the same kind can be approximated depending on the plasma properties. Then, the current densities can be estimated analytically. This approach to the problem yields selfconsistent approximations and is the only stringent derivation of the thick sheath and of the thin sheath approximation of the classical Langmuir theory. These approximations are generalized with respect to the charged particle emission from the surface. The symmetric probe theory is applied to the following problems of spacecraft environment and spacecraft charging: (i) a spacecraft in the ionosphere with very negative surface potential, (ii) a spacecraft in the solar wind with strong photoelectron emission, and (iii) a spacecraft in the transition region of comet Halley with very strong secondary plasma emission.
 Publication:

Planetary and Space Science
 Pub Date:
 May 1981
 DOI:
 10.1016/00320633(81)900684
 Bibcode:
 1981P&SS...29..555M
 Keywords:

 Charge Distribution;
 Collisionless Plasmas;
 Electric Potential;
 Plasma Interactions;
 Plasma Probes;
 Space Plasmas;
 Spacecraft Charging;
 Boundary Conditions;
 Boundary Value Problems;
 Charged Particles;
 Distribution Functions;
 Earth Ionosphere;
 Electrostatic Probes;
 Halley'S Comet;
 Plasma Radiation;
 Plasma Sheaths;
 Solar Wind;
 Vlasov Equations;
 Launch Vehicles and Space Vehicles