Chinese Space Science and Technology ›› 2023, Vol. 43 ›› Issue (2): 47-54.doi: 10.16708/j.cnki.1000-758X.2023.0019

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Probe diagnosis of plume of micro-cathode arc thruster

WANG Shuai,LIU Xiangyang,ZHAO Zijing,GUO Haoran,GENG Jinyue,SHEN Yan,WANG Ningfei   

  1. 1 School of Aerospace Engineering,Beijing Institute of Technology,Beijing 100081,China
    2 Beijing Institute of Control Engineering,Beijing 100190,China
    3 School of Aeronautics and Astronautics,Sun Yat-Sen University,Guangzhou 510275,China
  • Online:2023-04-25 Published:2023-03-13

Abstract: Owing to the characteristics of low power and simple structure,microcathode arc thruster(μCAT)meets the mission requirements of micro-nano satellites,and thus has a good development prospect.The diagnosis of μCAT plume can reveal the acceleration mechanism of the thruster,which is of great significance for improving the performance of μCAT.The electron temperature,electron density and ion velocity at different positions of μCAT plume were obtained by using Langmuir threeprobe.The effects of external magnetic field,charging time and cathode material on plasma characteristics and ion velocity were investigated.The results show that the plasma generated at the initial stage of μCAT discharge has the characteristics of higher electron temperature and density.As the plume moves downstream,electron temperature and electron density decrease,and ion velocity increases.With the stronger external magnetic field,electron temperature and ion velocity increase,and electron density decreases.The electron density of the central axis of thruster is improved effectively when the external magnetic field is shifted to the downstream of thruster.As the charging time of μCAT is longer,the electron temperature,electron density and ion velocity increase.Compared with CuW and AgW cathodes,the electron temperature of Ti cathode plume is higher and electron density is lower.

Key words:  , micro-cathode arc thruster, plume diagnosis, Langmuir probe, plasma characteristic, ion velocity