A parallel particle-in-cell code for spacecraft charging problems

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Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics


© 2020 The Author(s),. Published by Cambridge University Press. This paper reports the recent development of a full-scale particle-in-cell (PIC) simulation package highlighting an efficient electro-statics (ES)-PIC implementation for spacecraft charging problems. Numerical simulations are crucial in studying plasma flows because analytical solutions are rare, and experiments are expensive. There are many types of plasma flow that need various numerical methods for efficient and accurate simulations; as such, how to implement and organize those different methods into one comprehensive simulation package is challenging. This work adopted several modern software design patterns and developed a versatile package that includes various PIC schemes. This package has an open architecture, clean interfaces with both serial and parallel simulation capabilities. Two benchmark test cases are included to demonstrate the capabilities of this package. Then two plasma flows around a positively charged probe are simulated, and the results are discussed. The simulation results are consistent with past simulation results, and new insights are obtained. This work can lead to the development and organization of more sophisticated plasma simulation solvers in the future.

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Journal of Plasma Physics