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Investigation of the Impact of Plasma Instabilities on Electron Detachment in Low Temperature Magnetic Nozzles

Shadrach Hepner
University of Michigan

The research will contain theoretical,  computational, and experimental components. First, I will consult the literature on plasma instabilities in general and apply them to a low temperature magnetic nozzle. In doing so, I will be predicting, to first order, which instabilities may be present. I will then compute theoretical cross field mobility parameters and determine which waves present should contribute to detachment, and the circumstances under which they may do so. I will then proceed to develop computational analysis tools to analyze second order effects and more precisely determine the impact of each instability throughout the plume. Finally, I will conduct experiments on a variety of magnetic nozzle sources to determine the accuracy of my predictions. I will use the magnetic detachment experiment at the University of Michigan, as well as a few plasma sources currently at the Glenn Research Center. At the end of my research, I will have a comprehensive method of determining whether instabilities incite electron detachment and how they may do so.

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