Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2)


Robert M. Winglee | B. Race Roberson

Artist impression of M2P2 in action Mini-Magnetospheric Plasma Propulsion (M2P2) is an advanced plasma propulsion system that will enable spacecraft to attain unprecedented speeds, with minimal energy and mass requirements. It will create a large scale magnetic bubble around the spacecraft to ride the solar winds, and accelerate the spacecraft to unprecedented speeds.

new chamber

A large chamber is installed at the University of Washington for continued prototype testing. The chamber easily allows the inflation to be optimized without strong wall interactions.
Video clip of a recent inflation experiment

Solar wind deflection

M2P2 has now been able to demonstrate that it can successfully deflect a 1 Newton plasma using less than 1 kW of power. Click the image to see a video clip of this deflection.

Artist's impression of a mini-magnetosphere deployed around a spacecraft. Plasma or ionized gas is trapped on the magnetic field lines generated onboard, and this plasma inflates the magnetic field much like hot air inflates a balloon. A 7 MB animation of the inflation can be seen through this link. The mini-magnetosphere is then blown by the plasma wind from the Sun called the solar wind which has a speed between ~350 to 800 km/s.
Tsest of the prototype developed at the Univ. of Washington were performed at the large vacuum chamber at Test Area 300 at NASA Marshall Space Flight Center. These tests allow the expansion over some 16 ft, or nearly 50 times the magnet radius to be studied.

Flash Movie provided by Matt Conway (7 MB download)

Technical Information

What's behind the M2P2


Want More? See the Movies of Test Results and computer simulations showing the device in operation.

Dept. of Earth and Space Sciences Homepage
Updated Nov 2011