Conventional annular Hall thrusters become inefficient when scaled to low power. An alternative approach, a 2.6 cm miniaturized cylindrical Hall thruster with a cusp-type magnetic field distribution, was developed and studied. Its performance was compared to that of a conventional annular thruster of the same dimensions. The cylindrical thruster exhibits discharge characteristics similar to those of the annular thruster, but it has a much higher propellant ionization efficiency. Significantly, a large fraction of multicharged xenon ions might be present in the outgoing ion flux generated by the cylindrical thruster. The operation of the cylindrical thruster is quieter than that of the annular thruster. The characteristic peak in the discharge current fluctuation spectrum at 50-60 kHz appears to be due to ionization instabilities. In the power range 50-300 W, the cylindrical and annular thrusters have comparable efficiencies (15%-32%) and thrusts (2.5-12 mN). For the annular configuration, a voltage less than 200 V was not sufficient to sustain the discharge at low propellant flow rates. The cylindrical thruster can operate at voltages lower than 200 V, which suggests that a cylindrical thruster can be designed to operate at even smaller power.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Physics and Astronomy(all)