Effects of enhanced cathode electron emission on Hall thruster operation

Raitses, Y.; Smirnov, A.; Fisch, N. J.
May 2009
Physics of Plasmas;May2009, Vol. 16 Issue 5, p057106
Academic Journal
Interesting discharge phenomena are observed that have to do with the interaction between the magnetized Hall thruster plasma and the neutralizing cathode. The steady-state parameters of a highly ionized thruster discharge are strongly influenced by the electron supply from the cathode. The enhancement of the cathode electron emission above its self-sustained level affects the discharge current and leads to a dramatic reduction in the plasma divergence and a suppression of large amplitude, low frequency discharge current oscillations usually related to an ionization instability. These effects correlate strongly with the reduction in the voltage drop in the region with the fringing magnetic field between the thruster channel and the cathode. The measured changes in the plasma properties suggest that the electron emission affects the electron cross-field transport in the thruster discharge. These trends are generalized for Hall thrusters of various configurations.


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