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Thrusters are used on satellites for orbit transfer and altitude control. Due to the geometrical constraints of satellite design, thrusters are almost always close from critical parts of the satellites, such as payload, solar arrays ... Due to the high velocity and temperature of the flow, thrusters have significant impacts on the different satellite surfaces. In order to design satellites efficiently, it is thus imperative to predict accurately thruster effects on their surfaces.

Systema-Plume is a powerful 3D geometrical analysis tool dedicated at calculating thruster effects on satellite surfaces. As a very flexible and extensive tool, Plume can be used for both chemical and ionic thrusters. Under the assumption that the incident flow-field is not disturbed by the geometry, Plume can compute and display in a rich 3D environment:

  • The perturbing forces and torques (chemical or ionic thrusters)
  • The thermal convective flux (chemical or ionic thrusters)
  • The contamination deposits (chemical thrusters)
  • Handling moving geometries (rotating solar arrays, …)

Systema-Plume is the only engineering tool for plume impingement developed in Europe. Plume used up-to-date and well known reference models published in the scientific literature. Furthermore, numerous correlation cases based on ground measurements (from CNRS, TUHH, DLR) as well as in flight experience (Telecom 2 …) have proven the tool accuracy.

Systema-Plume has been developed by Airbus Defence and Space for over 25 years in order to perform reliable analyses for Astrium satellites design. In this context, it has been used on dozens of telecommunications and observation satellites (Astra 2B, Worldstar, Hot-Bird, Intelsat X, Inmarsat 4, Ariane, Spot, Soho, XMM, Rosetta, …) and is nowadays used for every satellite project (@bus, Arabsat 5, Astra 3B, Amazonas 2, …). Plume is jointly owned by Airbus DS and CNES.

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