Measurement of plasma momentum exerted on target by a small helicon plasma thruster and comparison with direct thrust measurement

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Abstract

Momentum, i.e., force, exerted from a small helicon plasma thruster to a target plate is measured simultaneously with a direct thrust measurement using a thrust balance. The calibration coefficient relating a target displacement to a steady-state force is obtained by supplying a dc to a calibration coil mounted on the target, where a force acting to a small permanent magnet located near the coil is directly measured by using a load cell. As the force exerted by the plasma flow to the target plate is in good agreement with the directly measured thrust, the validity of the target technique is demonstrated under the present operating conditions, where the thruster is operated in steady-state. Furthermore, a calibration coefficient relating a swing amplitude of the target to an impulse bit is also obtained by pulsing the calibration coil current. The force exerted by the pulsed plasma, which is estimated from the measured impulse bit and the pulse width, is also in good agreement with that obtained for the steady-state operation; hence, the thrust assessment of the helicon plasma thruster by the target is validated for both the steady-state and pulsed operations.

Original languageEnglish
Article number023505
JournalReview of Scientific Instruments
Volume86
Issue number2
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2015 Feb 1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Instrumentation

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