Electric Probe Measurements in the Plume of the UK-10 Ion Thruster.
AEROSPACE CORP EL SEGUNDO CA TECHNOLOGY OPERATIONS
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Results are presented of measurements with double and single electric probes in the beam of the UK-10 ion thruster, using xenon as the propellant gas. The probe material consisted of tungsten, and secondary emission was of negligible importance. As a consequence of the large directed velocity of the ions, the ion current to a probe was essentially independent of probe voltage. Since the Debye length was small compared with the probe radius, no ions or electrons were collected on the downstream part of a probe. Detailed results are given for ion flux profiles and ion density in the beam, as well as for floating potential profiles. Attention is given to the determination of characteristic electron energies. Evidence is obtained that the electron gas has a non-Maxwellian speed distribution function. Estimates are derived for the degree of non-neutralization in the beam. The neutralization process is discussed in some detail, as is the charge-exchange plasma that exists outside the main beam near the outlet of the thruster. Electronic propulsion, Ion thrusters, Electric probes, Charge neutralization.
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