The use of permanent magnets instead of electromagnet coils for low power Hall thrusters can offer a significant reduction in both the total electric power consumption and the thruster mass. Two permanent magnet versions of the miniaturized cylindrical Hall thruster (CHT) of different overall dimensions were operated in the power range of 50-300 W. The discharge and plasma plume measurements revealed that the CHT thrusters with permanent magnets and electromagnet coils operate rather differently. In particular, the angular ion current density distribution from the permanent magnet thrusters has an unusual halo shape, with a majority of high energy ions flowing at large angles with respect to the thruster centerline. Differences in the magnetic field topology outside the thruster channel and in the vicinity of the channel exit are likely responsible for the differences in the plume characteristics measured for the CHTs with electromagnets and permanent magnets. It is shown that the presence of the reversing-direction or cusp-type magnetic field configuration inside the thruster channel without a strong axial magnetic field outside the thruster channel does not lead to the halo plasma plume from the CHT.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)