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Analytical Ion Thruster Discharge Performance Model

By Dan M. Goebel, Richard E. Wirz and Ira Katz


A particle and energy balance model of the plasma discharge in magnetic ring-cusp ion thrusters has been developed. The model follows the original work of Brophy in the development of global 0-D discharge models that utilize conservation of particles into and out of the thruster and conservation of energy into the discharge and out of the plasma in the form of charged particles to the walls and beam and plasma radiation. The present model is significantly expanded over Brophy's original work by including self-consistent calculations of the internal neutral pressure, electron temperature, primary electron density, electrostatic ion confinement (due to the ring-cusp fields), plasma potential, discharge stability, and time dependent behavior during recycling. The model only requires information on the thruster geometry, ion optics performance and electrical inputs such as discharge voltage and currents, etc. to produce accurate performance curves of discharge loss versus mass utilization efficiency. The model has been benchmarked against the NEXIS Laboratory Model (LM) and Development Model (DM) thrusters, and successfully predicts the thruster discharge loss as a function of mass utilization efficiency for a variety of thrusters. The discharge performance model will be presented and results showing ion thruster performance and stability given

Topics: Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Year: 2006
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