Argon propellant is introduced from the upstream and downstream sides of a high power helicon plasma thruster. The plasma density profile and the imparted thrust are measured for various upstream and downstream argon flow rates, where the total gas flow rate of 70 sccm and the resultant vacuum chamber pressure of 0.2 mTorr are maintained. It is observed that the imparted thrust increases with an increase in the downstream gas flow rate; simultaneously an upstream-peaking profile of the plasma density observed for the upstream gas injection becomes uniform for the downstream gas injection. The difference in the thrust between the upstream and downstream gas injections is enhanced by increasing the rf power. The observed density profiles are qualitatively consistent with theoretical predictions taking a neutral depletion effect into account.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)