The high plasma density downstream of the source is observed to be sustained only for a few hundreds of microsecond at the initial phase of the discharge, when pulsing the radiofrequency power of a helicon plasma thruster. Measured relative density of argon neutrals inside the source implies that the neutrals are significantly depleted there. A position giving a maximum plasma density temporally moves to the upstream side of the source due to the neutral depletion and then the exhausted plasma density significantly decreases. The direct thrust measurement demonstrates that the higher thrust-to-power ratio is obtained by using only the initial phase of the high density plasma, compared with the steady-state operation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Physics and Astronomy (miscellaneous)