Long Life Miniature Hall Thruster Enabling Low Cost Human Precursor Missions

Metadata Updated: February 28, 2019

Key and Central Objectives: This investigation aims to demonstrate that the application of magnetic shielding technology on miniature Hall thrusters will dramatically improve the operational life of these devices while improving total efficiency and performance. By applying magnetically shielded field topography to a custom-built miniature Hall thruster, we will show that erosion and localized heating problems are eliminated when compared to a non-shielded design. This will allow the device to operate at its optimum discharge voltage without the negative effects of discharge channel erosion or high-energy electron power deposition, thereby increasing operational life, increasing total efficiency, and improving thruster performance.

Significance of Objectives: This novel miniature Hall thruster will enable low cost deep space human precursor missions to near Earth asteroids (NEAs), near Earth objects (NEOs), and nearby planets. As discussed in the NASA In-Space Propulsion System Roadmap Section, the development of high-power Hall thrusters with longer operational lifetimes is necessary for human missions throughout the solar system. Before such missions can occur, however, precursor missions involving low cost miniature spacecraft must survey the target NEA, NEO, or planet to mitigate the risks of deep space human travel. Employing long life, high efficiency miniature Hall thrusters on such precursor spacecraft will enable shorter mission times due to the increased thrust (compared to ion thrusters) while maintaining the high propellant efficiency common to electric propulsion devices.

Proposed Method/Techniques: This effort will combine experimental and computational approaches to determine an efficient and robust thruster design. Initial modeling efforts will be used before testing to design the thruster’s magnetic circuit, feed system, and plasma channel. Models will also be used throughout the testing and post-test analysis to assess thruster performance and associated plasma behavior. The experimental aspect of this investigation requires the construction of two nearly identical miniature Hall thrusters. The first custom thruster will be built using conventional Hall thruster designs (purely radial magnetic field near the thruster channel exit). This thruster will be rigorously tested and all of its performance and efficiency data will be recorded. These data are expected to be on the same order of the performance and efficiency of the state-of-the-art BHT-200 and will be the control for this experiment. The second thruster will employ magnetically shielded field topography for a miniature thruster based on the design principles discussed by Hofer and Mikellides, et al. This device will be tested in the same way as the first thruster to provide a direct comparison of performance and efficiency. All experiments are to be carried out in the newly constructed Pi Facility vacuum chamber (5’ diameter x 9’ length) at UCLA, capable of 5e-7 Torr base pressure. A direct comparison of the data from the two test thrusters will demonstrate the benefits of magnetic shielding ’in miniature Hall thrusters. The physical mechanisms responsible for the improvements in performance due to shielding will be illuminated and explained by plasma diagnostics data. Successful completion of this investigation will result in demonstrating the elimination of discharge channel wall erosion as a life limiting factor for miniature Hall thrusters along with improved performance and efficiency through the application of the magnetic shielding techniques.

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Public: This dataset is intended for public access and use. License: U.S. Government Work

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Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date February 28, 2019

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Harvested from NASA Data.json

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Resource Type Dataset
Metadata Created Date August 1, 2018
Metadata Updated Date February 28, 2019
Publisher Space Technology Mission Directorate
Unique Identifier TECHPORT_91178
Maintainer Email
Public Access Level public
Bureau Code 026:00
Metadata Context https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema/catalog.jsonld
Metadata Catalog ID https://data.nasa.gov/data.json
Schema Version https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema
Catalog Describedby https://project-open-data.cio.gov/v1.1/schema/catalog.json
Harvest Object Id 1dbf30ab-4791-4491-a760-3f8606d3c7c6
Harvest Source Id 39e4ad2a-47ca-4507-8258-852babd0fd99
Harvest Source Title NASA Data.json
Data First Published 2016-01-01
Homepage URL https://techport.nasa.gov/view/91178
License http://www.usa.gov/publicdomain/label/1.0/
Data Last Modified 2018-07-19
Program Code 026:027
Source Datajson Identifier True
Source Hash 69e4e8e1eff093caf85c1159d140eed59870a128
Source Schema Version 1.1

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