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Opportunity at Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL)

Chemical Processes in the Space Environment

Location

Space Vehicles Directorate, RV/Chemistry and Chemical Tech-Kirtland AFB

RO# Location
13.40.09.C0302 Kirtland Air Force Base, NM 871175776

Advisers

name email phone
Benjamin Douglas Prince benjamin.prince.2@spaceforce.mil 505-846-7255

Description

We use experimental and theoretical tools to examine a broad range of hyperthermal processes including 1) interactions between atmospheric species and surfaces, 2) chemical and electric thruster plumes with atmospheric species, 3) interactions occuring in the plumes of next-generation propulsion technologies and 4) fundamental ion-neutral collision processes. Typical experimental techniques include guided-ion beam tandem mass spectrometry, quadrupole and time-of-flight mass spectrometry, optical emission spectroscopy/spectrometry, laser-induced fluorescence detection and measurement of ion conversion efficiency for atmospheric sensors. The laboratory houses 5 different high vacuum experimental systems and has access to high-performance computing resouces for theoretical treatment of experimental results. Areas of current particular interest are experimentation relevant to the re-entry vehicle environment where electronic, vibrational and rotational excited states are common and experimental data is sparse, development and understanding of the microphysics associated with ionic liquid propelled electrospray thruster technology, quantification of processes leading to thruster signatures of in-space propulsion systems, and fundamental charge-exchange physics with an emphasis on quantification of scattering angles, energy transfer, and branching ratios. Also of general interest are: methods to determine and predict performance of different ionic liquids in an electrospray thruster application including providing insights into potential spacecraft contamination, evaluation of sensor materials for real-time orbital drag measurements, and alternative approaches to addressing space situational awareness needs. We use the results of the fundamental work performed in the laboratory to improve on and guide development of systems of interest to the Air Force and the DoD at large. 

Keywords:
Electric propulsion; Charge-transfer; Hyperthermal physics; Hypersonic re-entry; Atmospheric sensing; Electrospray thrusters; Molecular dynamics

Eligibility

Citizenship:  Open to U.S. citizens
Level:  Open to Postdoctoral and Senior applicants

Stipend

Base Stipend Travel Allotment Supplementation
$76,542.00 $4,000.00

$3,000 Supplement for Doctorates in Engineering & Computer Science

Experience Supplement:
Postdoctoral and Senior Associates will receive an appropriately higher stipend based on the number of years of experience past their PhD.

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