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Open AccessArticle

Characterization of Vacuum Arc Thruster Performance in Weak Magnetic Nozzle

Aerospace Plasma Laboratory, Faculty of Aerospace Engineering, Technion—Israel Institute of Technology, Haifa 3200003, Israel
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Aerospace 2020, 7(6), 82; https://doi.org/10.3390/aerospace7060082
Received: 24 April 2020 / Revised: 5 June 2020 / Accepted: 16 June 2020 / Published: 19 June 2020
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Electric Propulsion)
Vacuum arc thruster performance in a magnetic nozzle configuration is experimentally characterized. Measurements are performed on a miniature coaxial thruster with an anode inner diameter of 1.8 mm. The magnetic field B is produced by a single air coil, 18 mm in diameter. Direct measurement of thrust, mass consumption and arc current are performed. To obtain statistically viable results 6000 arc pulses are analyzed at each operational point. Cathode mass erosion is measured using laser profilometry. To sustain thruster operation over several measurement cycles, an active cathode feeding system is used. For 0 < B 0.2 T, performance increase over the non-magnetic case is observed with the best thrust to arc power ratio T / P 9 μ N/W obtained at B 0.2 T. A parametric model is provided that captures the performance enhancement based on beam collimation and acceleration by the magnetic nozzle. For B > 0.2 T, the arc discharge is shown to be suppressed nullifying any additional gains by the nozzle effect. View Full-Text
Keywords: vacuum arc thruster; electric propulsion; micro-propulsion; beam collimation; magnetic field; magnetic nozzle vacuum arc thruster; electric propulsion; micro-propulsion; beam collimation; magnetic field; magnetic nozzle
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MDPI and ACS Style

Chowdhury, S.; Kronhaus, I. Characterization of Vacuum Arc Thruster Performance in Weak Magnetic Nozzle. Aerospace 2020, 7, 82.

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