The 100 W-class ISCT100-v2 Hall Thruster (HT) has been characterized in terms of far-field plume properties. By means of a Faraday Cup and a Retarding Potential Analyzer, both the ion current density and the ion energy distribution function have been measured over a 180
circular arc for different operating points. Measurements are compared to far-field plume characterizations performed with higher power Hall thrusters. The ion current density profiles remain unchanged whatever the HT input power, although an asymptotic limit is observed in the core of the plume at high discharge voltages and anode mass flow rates. In like manner, the ion energy distribution functions reveal that most of the beam energy is concentrated in the core of the plume
. Moreover, the fraction of low energy ion populations increases at large angles, owing to charge exchange and elastic collisions. Distinct plume regions are identified; they remain similar to the one described for high-power HTs. An efficiency analysis is also performed in terms of current utilization, mass utilization, and voltage utilization. The anode efficiency appears to be essentially affected by a low voltage utilization, the latter originating from the large surface-to-volume ratio inherent to low-power HTs. Experimental results also show that the background pressure clearly affects the plume structure and content.
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