News Column

New Propulsion and Power Findings from California Institute of Technology Reported (Plasma Structure of Miniature Ring-Cusp Ion Thruster Discharges)

July 2, 2014

By a News Reporter-Staff News Editor at Defense & Aerospace Week -- Investigators publish new report on Propulsion and Power. According to news reporting out of Pasadena, California, by VerticalNews editors, research stated, "Previous miniature ion thruster studies have demonstrated impressive performance using ring-cusp discharges. These studies suggest that the magnetic field must be sufficiently strong to increase primary electron confinement times for ionization, but weak enough to allow plasma electrons to escape and maintain the plasma potential necessary for ionization."

Our news journalists obtained a quote from the research from the California Institute of Technology, "To investigate these phenomena, an experiment was developed to allow detailed measurements of the internal structure and characteristics of a miniature ring-cusp discharge. These measurements provide spatially resolved values for plasma density, electron temperature, and plasma potential along a meridian plane. The magnetic field configuration is arranged as a quasi-periodic domain in order to generalize the findings to all multipole discharges. The results show that the magnetic field strength drives the plasma structure, and the dependence on discharge power can be removed with proper scaling of the plasma parameters. The stronger magnetic field results in a higher peak plasma density, but relatively low discharge utilization efficiency. In addition, the potential measurements indicate the likely onset of discharge instability. In contrast, the weaker magnetic field, or baseline. configuration, better uses the volume of the chamber."

According to the news editors, the research concluded: "This leads to a higher and more uniform density near the downstream end of the discharge where ion extraction would occur, implying superior discharge utilization."

For more information on this research see: Plasma Structure of Miniature Ring-Cusp Ion Thruster Discharges. Journal of Propulsion and Power, 2014;30(3):628-636. Journal of Propulsion and Power can be contacted at: Amer Inst Aeronautics Astronautics, 1801 Alexander Bell Drive, Ste 500, Reston, VA 22091-4344, USA.

Our news journalists report that additional information may be obtained by contacting H.S. Mao, California Institute of Technology, Jet Prop Lab, Prop & Mat Engn Sect, Pasadena, CA 91109, United States. Additional authors for this research include R.E. Wirz and D.M. Goebel.

Keywords for this news article include: Pasadena, California, United States, Propulsion and Power, North and Central America

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Source: Defense & Aerospace Week

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