Spiky Ferrofluid Thrusters Can Move Satellites
Once launched into low-Earth orbit, a small satellite needs propulsion. Electrospray uses spiky, needle-like jets of fluid to push spacecraft.
Brandon Jackson, a doctoral candidate in mechanical engineering at Michigan Tech, has created a new computational model of an electrospray thruster using ionic liquid ferrofluid—a promising technology for propelling small satellites through space. Specifically, Jackson looks at simulating the electrospray startup dynamics; in other words, what gives the ferrofluid its characteristic spikes.
He is the lead author of a recent article in Physics of Fluids, "Ionic Liquid Ferrofluid Interface Deformation and Spray Onset Under Electric and Magnetic Stresses."
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