Date of Award

5-23-2010

Document Type

Honors Thesis

Department

Physics

First Advisor

Hans Pfister

Language

English

Abstract

The position of the anode inside a Hall thruster is a very critical yet unexplored parameter in thruster physics. We present an innovative thruster that has a movable anode to test thruster efficiency and performance at different anode locations. Three effects are found and explained. The first is an instability in the discharge modes of the thruster, which is believed to be connected to plasma sheath instabilities in the acceleration channel. The second effect is a delay of ignition when the anode is further back into the channel. This is largely due to the electron transit time being increased as the distance the electrons travel is increased. The third effect is a decrease in the saturation voltage as the anode is moved farther back into the channel, which indicates that the anode position helps increase or decrease thruster efficiency. A maximum occurs in this trend, indicating that there is an optimal anode position for the Dickinson College Hall thruster.

Included in

Physics Commons

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