An experimental investigation of alternative propellants for the helicon double layer thruster

Date

2008

Authors

Charles, Christine
Boswell, Roderick
Laine, Robert
MacLellan, P

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Publisher

Institute of Physics Publishing

Abstract

Ion energy distribution functions are measured using a retarding field energy analyser located 7.5 cm downstream of a helicon double layer plasma source, respectively, operating with four molecular gases: nitrogen (N 2), methane (CH4), ammonia (NH3) and nitrous oxide (N2O). For radiofrequency powers of a few hundred watts, and a magnetic field diverging from about 0.013 T (130 G) in the source to about 0.001 T (10 G) in the exhaust, an ion beam is detected for each propellant over a very similar operating pressure range (∼0.023 Pa (0.17 mTorr) to ∼0.267 Pa (2 mTorr)), as a result of spontaneous electric double layer formation near the exit of the plasma source. The characteristics of the ion beam versus operating pressure closely follow those previously obtained in argon, xenon and hydrogen. The ion beam exhaust velocity in space is found to be in the 17-19 km s-1 range in N2, 21-27 km s-1 range in CH 4 and NH3 and 14-16 km s-1 range in N 2O.

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Citation

Source

Journal of Physics D: Applied Physics

Type

Journal article

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DOI

10.1088/0022-3727/41/17/175213

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