Dielectrophoresis of Atmosphere Propellant-free (DAP) Drive for Low Earth Orbit Satellites

A novel propellant-free propulsion system that will allow for maintaining orbits at altitudes between 125 and 200 km indefinitely. This novel propulsion system is based upon dielectrophoresis (DEP), or the force on neutral materials in non-uniform electric fields. In particular, the invention transforms what is considered a weak force into a scalable propulsion system by constructing massively parallel electrode arrays that collectively exert significant forces on ambient gas molecules. Additionally, the invention employs a non-restorative variant of DEP known as traveling-wave DEP (twDEP) to generate a force that is larger than drag on the spacecraft, at any altitude. This proposed system, which we term a dielectrophoresis of atmosphere propellant-free (DAP) drive, will address pressing needs by providing new avenues for sustaining and maneuvering spacecraft in the near earth environment with effectively indefinite mission lifetimes. Misty Farrell mfpenn@bu.edu 617-358-3795

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