Laser-sustained argon plasmas, for thermal rocket propulsion

D. K. Zerkle, S. Schwartz, A. Mertogul, X. Chen, H. Krier, J. Mazurnder

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaperpeer-review


The results of the ongoing investigation of laser-sustained argon plasmas in the forced convective flow regime are reported. Plasma absorption and thermal efficiency are the key parameters measured. Flow velocities of up to 30 m/s at one atmosphere, and up to 13.6 m/s at 2.5 atmospheres are imposed upon plasmas sustained at 2.5 kW, 5.0 kW, and 7.0 kW input laser powers, using either f/4 or f17 beam focusing geometries. Absorption ranged from 55% to 97% and thermal efficiency ranged from 11% to 46% depending upon the operating conditions. Absorptions and efficiencies this high have never before been reported and demonstrate that laser propulsion could be a practical orbital transfer concept. Spectroscopic analysis of the plasma core is used concurrently with conventional temperature and calorimetric diagnostics to determine absorption and efficiency independently.

Original languageEnglish (US)
StatePublished - 1998
EventAIAA 23rd Thermophysics, Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference, 1988 - San Antonio, United States
Duration: Jun 27 1988Jul 29 1988


OtherAIAA 23rd Thermophysics, Plasmadynamics and Lasers Conference, 1988
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CitySan Antonio

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • General Engineering


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