Magnetic Field Effects on the Plume of a Diverging Cusped-Field Thruster
Becker, Nicholas Michael
KAUST DepartmentElectrical Engineering Program
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AbstractThe Diverging Cusped-Field Thruster (DCFT) uses three permanent ring magnets of alternating polarity to create a unique magnetic topology intended to reduce plasma losses to the discharge chamber surfaces. The magnetic field strength within the DCFT discharge chamber (up to 4 kG on axis) is much higher than in thrusters of similar geometry, which is believed to be a driving factor in the high measured anode efficiencies. The field strength in the near plume region is large as well, which may bear on the high beam divergences measured, with peaks in ion current found at angles of around 30-35 from the thruster axis. Characterization of the DCFT has heretofore involved only one magnetic topology. It is then the purpose of this study to investigate changes to the near-field plume caused by altering the shape and strength of the magnetic field. A thick magnetic collar, encircling the thruster body, is used to lower the field strength outside of the discharge chamber and thus lessen any effects caused by the external field. Changes in the thruster plume with field topology are monitored by the use of normal Langmuir and emissive probes interrogating the near-field plasma. Results are related to other observations that suggest a unified conceptual framework for the important near-exit region of the thruster.
Conference/Event name46th AIAA/ASME/SAE/ASEE Joint Propulsion Conference & Exhibit