Hall thrusters, also known as closed drift accelerators, are very successful electric propulsion (EP) systems commonly used for spacecraft propulsion. Hall thrusters have good attributes, however they are designed to operate at power levels above 300 W – not suitable for nanosatellites that can provide the system low power (<50W).
The annular Hall thruster, having a very narrow and short metallic channel with respect to the thruster diameter, formed by two magnetic poles allows operate at very low power < 30 W, low mass flow rates < 0.4 mg/s, and low discharge voltages < 100 V. The design combines porous gas distributor/anode with angled metallic walls under cathode potential that also serve as magnetic poles. In addition, a new ignition method was developed.
- Size and power suitable for nanosatellites
Applications and Opportunities
- Nanosatellite propulsion