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Comparison of NASA's 30-cm Ion Thruster Capabilities with the Dawn Mission Requirements

By Charles Garner and John Brophy


The Dawn ion thrusters meet all of the performance and life requirements for the Dawn mission. FT001 has two magnets in sideways in the middle magnet ring, but this has only a minor impact on the thruster performance. Electron-backstreaming is the first wear-out failure mechanism for the Dawn ion thrusters - PFA Modeling Indicates: a) The mission cannot be completed with a single thruster; b) The probability for mission success based on accelerator grid wear is > 99% for the worst case thruster usage for nominal thruster beamlet profiles; and c) FT002 has the most peaked beam profile which impacts the thruster s throughput capability. PFA results indicate that this reduces the probability for mission success based on accelerator grid wear to 97% based on the worst case thruster usage. The wear-out probability is zero if all three thrusters are used during the mission

Topics: Spacecraft Propulsion and Power
Year: 2006
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