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Supercomputing Challenge

Modeling Ion Propulsion for Direct Spacecraft Prop

Team: 91


Area of Science: Engineering

Interim: Team Number: 91
School Name: Rio Rancho Mid-High
Area of Science: Engineering
Project Title: Modeling Ion Propulsion for Direct Spacecraft Propulsion

Problem Definition:
Traveling to other planetary bodies has fascinated humans for generations. Deep Space 1 was the first spacecraft to use an ion propulsion system. NSTAR wanted to overcome the challenges of using solar-electric propulsion (SEP) for deep-space travel. The two main problems that had to be addressed were to “demonstrate that the NASA 30-cm diameter ion engine had sufficient life and total capability to perform missions. If ion generation become too great, than there will be a point where the ions will be wasted because they can no longer be effectively.
Problem Solution: In order to solve this problem, Star Logo will be used to model ion generation in the cathode grid. The user will need to be able to change the number and type of atoms put into the grid. The program will then calculate the amount of thrust being output based on the mass of the ions, the power of the propulsion system, and the number of ions the propulsion system shoot out at a time.
Progress to Date: Mv= Mr/√V/ 186,000 miles per second. We found out this formula at the Glorietta Kickoff Conference. At lunch, our mentor Nick Bennett showed us this formula that disproved our theory that a spacecraft can travel faster than light speed.
Expected Results:
Pseudo-code: We are going to trick StarLogo into showing us the production of ions in a double cathode grid system and to show us the acceleration of an interstellar spacecraft. Certain variables (Mass, speed of light, Einstein’s theory of relativity, inertia, and the path traveled) will be used in the outcome of the results that StarLogo gives us. A double cathode grid system uses four electrically charged or neutral walls to create two ions, one negative and one positive. It does this by stripping one of the atoms of its electrons, making it positive. The other atom is given the electrons, making it a negative ion. Usually, atoms with a large mass and four valence electrons are used in this process because a middle amount of valence electrons makes it easier to make a stable, high ionic charge and because the larger mass produces more force on ejection.
Team Members: Robby Maura, Jarett Jones
Sponsoring Teacher: Debra Loftin

Team Members:

  Jarett Jones
  Luis Maura

Sponsoring Teacher: Debra Loftin

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