Sanmartín Losada, Juan Ramón and Lorenzini, Enrico C.
A "Free-Lunch" tour of the Jovian System.
In: "8th Spacecraft Charging Technology Conference", 20-24 oct 2003, Hunstville.
An ED-tether mission to Jupiter is presented. A bare tether carrying cathodic devices at both ends but no power supply, and using no propellant, could move 'freely' among Jupiter's
4 great moons. The tour scheme would have current naturally driven throughout by the motional electric field, the Lorentz force switching direction with current around a 'drag' radius of 160,00 kms, where the speed of the jovian ionosphere equals the speed of a spacecraft in circular orbit. With plasma density and magnetic field decreasing rapidly with distance from Jupiter, drag/thrust would only be operated in the inner plasmasphere, current being near shut off conveniently in orbit by disconnecting cathodes or plugging in a very large resistance; the tether could serve as its own power supply by plugging in an electric
load where convenient, with just some reduction in thrust or drag. The periapsis of the spacecraft in a heliocentric transfer orbit from Earth would lie inside the drag sphere; with tether deployed and current on around periapsis, magnetic drag allows Jupiter to capture the spacecraft into an elliptic orbit of high eccentricity. Current would be on at succesive perijove passes and off elsewhere, reducing the eccentricity by lowering the apoapsis progressively to
allow visits of the giant moons. In a second phase, current is on around apoapsis outside the drag sphere, rising the periapsis until the full orbit lies outside that sphere. In a third phase, current is on at periapsis, increasing the eccentricity until a last push makes the orbit hyperbolic to escape Jupiter. Dynamical issues such as low gravity-gradient at Jupiter and tether orientation in elliptic orbits of high eccentricity are discussed.