Ion Voltage Diagnostics in the Far-Field Plume of a High-Specific Impulse Hall Thruster
Air Force Research Laboratory Edwards AFB United States
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The effects of the magnetic field and discharge voltage on the far-field plume of the NASA-173Mv2 laboratory-model Hall thruster were investigated. A cylindrical Langmuir probe was used to measure the plasma potential and a retarding potential analyzer was employed to measure the ion voltage distribution. The plasma potential was affected by relatively small changes in the external magnetic field, which suggested a means to control the plasma surrounding the thruster. As the discharge voltage increased, the ion voltage distribution showed that the acceleration efficiency increased and the dispersion efficiency decreased. This implied that the ionization zone was growing axially and moving closer to the anode, which could have affected thruster efficiency and lifetime due to higher wall losses. However, wall losses may have been reduced by improved focusing efficiency since the total efficiency increased and the plume divergence decreased with discharge voltage.