Development and Initial Testing of a Magnetically Shielded Miniature Hall Thruster

TitleDevelopment and Initial Testing of a Magnetically Shielded Miniature Hall Thruster
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsConversano, Ryan W., Dan M. Goebel, Richard R. Hofer, Taylor S. Matlock, and Richard E. Wirz
JournalIEEE Transactions on Plasma Science Special Issue on Plasma Propulsion
Date PublishedPublished Online
KeywordsHall Thruster, Magnetic Shielding

Abstract – The scaling of magnetically shielded Hall thrusters to low-power is investigated through the development and fabrication of a 4 cm Hall thruster. During initial testing, the magnetically shielded miniature Hall thruster was operated at 275 V discharge voltage and 325 W discharge power. Inspection of the channel walls after testing suggests that the outer discharge channel wall was successfully shielded from high-energy ion erosion while the inner channel wall showed evidence of weaker shielding, likely due to magnetic circuit saturation. Scanning planar probe measurements taken at two locations downstream of the thruster face provided ion current density profiles. The ion current calculated by integrating these data was 1.04 A with a plume divergence half-angle of 30°. Swept retarding potential analyzer measurements taken 80 cm axially downstream of the thruster measured the most probable ion voltage to be 252 V. The total thruster efficiency was calculated from probe measurements to be 43% (anode efficiency of 59%) corresponding to a thrust of 19 mN at a specific impulse of 1870 s. Discharge channel erosion rates were found to be approximately three orders of magnitude less than unshielded Hall thrusters, suggesting the potential for a significant increase in operational life.


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