The Division of Space Plasma Power and Propulsion (SP3) was founded in 1986 as an international quality research team to undertake fundamental research in low temperature plasma physics, applied to space and materials processing. I will talk about SP3’s recent research, which focuses on space plasmas (solar corona and exoplanet research) and space missions (mission to Mercury) in collaboration with many overseas partners. Our interest is the development of advanced concepts and technologies which ranges from space thrusters (low Earth orbit, geostationary and deep space) to focused ion beams (materials characterisation, forensic studies) and medical diagnostics. Our research makes impact in industry and society.
Professor Christine Charles, FAA, Head of SP3 is internationally recognised for her research on ion acceleration in expanding magnetised plasmas and its applications to a new generation of space engines and advanced material processing. Her discoveries have led to two new sub-fields of physics: currentfree double layer physics, and new generation space propulsion plasma engines. Christine’s research into innovative plasma processes has led to advances in hydrogen fuel cell development and modelling of plasma-surface interactions for bio-medical applications.