Projects and Services

Current Projects

Contamination Control Engineering

For the past several years, PIC-C has been providing contamination control engineering services to NASA and commercial aerospace firms. This includes both “hands-on” oversight of bakeouts and thermal vacuum testing, as well as contamination analysis. List of missions supported either presently or in the past is shown below. The contamination analysis we have performed included: computing depositions during thermal vacuum testing and at end of life from outgassing and molecular vents, modeling plume impingement, simulating evaporation and transport of liquid hydrazine for on orbit refueling, simulating redistribution of particulates during launch events, and modeling purge effectiveness. This analysis is typically conducted with our in-house code CTSP.


We are developing a general two-dimensional (planar or axi-symmetric) plasma and rarefied gas simulation code called Starfish. The code has been used for a number of simulations, including modeling conductance through a complex vent, design of an electrostatic energy analyzer, modeling near-wall plasma sheath, and studying ion transmission in a Mars soil spectrometer. The “light” version of the code containing support for basic electrostatic particle in cell (ES-PIC) simulations is available for general use.

Electric Propulsion Modeling

We are also providing development and testing support for AFRL’s Coliseum and SM/MURF plasma simulation codes. Coliseum is a framework for modeling interaction of electric propulsion plumes with spacecraft that was developed over 10 years ago. The primary plasma solver used in Coliseum, Draco, was developed for Dr. Brieda’s master’s thesis work. SM/MURF is the new replacement of Coliseum that implements modern object-oriented programming paradigms and also supports GPU acceleration. We are working with a large team to extend the capabilities by including detailed models for surface physics and modeling Hall effect thrusters.


In addition to providing molecular and particulate contamination transport modeling, we also specialize in the development of simulations codes for the plasma and rarefied gas environments. This includes modifications to existing codes, code parallelization, as well as development of new modules and algorithms relevant to, but not limited, fusion energy, plasma propulsion, material processing, space environments, orbital debris impingement, and lunar regolith adhesion.