Office National d’Etudes et Recherches Aérospatiales

Director: Bruno SAINJON, CEO
Location: Palaiseau & Toulouse
Keywords: Non-equilibrium plasmas, lightning, observations, advanced diagnostics, modeling, electric thrusters, plasma for aerospace, Spacecraft-plasma interactions, microscopic phenomena


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ONERA, the French Aerospace Lab, is a public research establishment whose goal is to perform fundamental and applied research to support the competitiveness and creativity of the European aerospace and defence industry. The research carried out at ONERA involves both fundamental activities for mid to long-term aerospace applications, and more applied activities, such as the design and manufacturing of prototypes (early warning radars, lightning monitoring network or satellite payload). Two teams are involved in PLAS@PAR, both part of the Physics, Instrumentation, Environment and Space Department.

Lightning, Plasma Applications (FPA), Team Leader: Denis Packan
Location: Palaiseau

The research topics linked to PLAS@PAR include:

Lightning: study of lightning interaction on aircraft (strike probability, thermal and mechanical stress on complex structure). Based on medium-scale test facility and numerical modelling, the research aims at understanding the basic phenomena of lightning-aircraft interaction, and to increase aircraft security. In parallel, the team develops sensor networks for lightning activity monitoring (ground station and airborne) and medium scale experiments for plasma-material interaction characterization with advanced diagnostics.

Non-equilibrium plasma for aerospace applications: The growing importance of this topic is spurred by the need of cleaner, leaner airframe. The team experimental and numerical activities are devoted to find novel applications of plasmas in the aerospace industry. For example, such applications are plasma-assisted flow control, plasma assisted combustion, depollution and MHD for flow control.

Plasma for space propulsion: the group has a recognized expertise in electric thruster diagnostics. These diagnostics provide the necessary input to validate the models that are now currently developed to understand the physics of novel plasma thruster concepts and develop new thrusters. In addition, the team has a wide range of experimental facilities for micro-propulsion testing, low power (up to 1 kW) and higher power thruster. The team is also involved in the development of the new electrode-less thruster ECRA.

Spacecraft-Environment Coupling (CSE), Team Leader: J.C. Mateo-Velez
Location: ONERA, Toulouse

A research group of the Space Environment Department

Activities, linked to PLAS@PAR surface interaction phenomena, at the microscopic level, such as secondary electron emission, surface erosion, properties modifications due to radiation and energetic particles, to provide reference data and lumped models for macroscopic simulations.