Exploration of the Jupiter plasma torus with a self-powered electrodynamic tether

Davide Curreli, Enrico C. Lorenzini, Claudio Bombardelli, Manuel Sanjurjo-Rivo, Fernando R. Lucas, Jesus Peláez, Daniel J. Scheeres, Martin Lara

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


The dynamics and power generation of an electrodynamic tether (EDT) placed in the three body system formed by Jupiter, Io and the space craft are analyzed. In the region surrounding Io's orbital path, a region of increased electrondensity called the plasma torus offers a suitable location to operate an EDT. The electrodynamic interaction between the conducting cable of the EDT and the strong magnetic field of the planet leads to non-negligible electrodynamic force, that perturbs the natural three body motion. New equilibrium positions are found in the synodic frame, which coincide with the classical triangular Lagrangian points only when the electrodynamic force vanishes. The locations of equilibrium positions are computed as a function of tether length, width and space craft mass. While in this equilibrium position, the tethered system can generate kilo watts of electrical power with out deorbiting the system, the energy coming from to the super-rotating plasma sphere of Jupiter. The motion around the new equilibrium positions is evaluated, for both small linear motion con fined to a neighborhood of the equilibrium point, and for large amplitude non-linear moions. As an application of this study, a mission profile capable to explore the whole plasma torus is presented. This plasma torus explorer can perform an inter nal "scan" of the torus itself while generating electrical power useful for loads on board the space craft.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationSpaceflight Mechanics 2009 - Advances in the Astronautical Sciences
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings of the 19th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
Number of pages20
StatePublished - 2009
Externally publishedYes
Event19th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting - Savannah, GA, United States
Duration: Feb 8 2009Feb 12 2009

Publication series

NameAdvances in the Astronautical Sciences
ISSN (Print)0065-3438


Other19th AAS/AIAA Space Flight Mechanics Meeting
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySavannah, GA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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