In order to satisfy the national demands for developing a long-life satellite platform, lunar exploration, and deep-space exploitation, Hall thrusters are now considered the preferred candidate for spacecraft propulsion. A Hall thruster is a type of electric propulsion with an annular structure, in which a propellant, usually xenon, is ionized and then accelerated by electrostatic force to create a propulsive thrust. Low-frequency discharge current oscillations, also called breathing mode oscillations in some references, are among the major research topics of Hall thrusters. Low-frequency oscillations in the range of 10–100 kHz might affect the reliability of power processing unit and reduce the efficiency and specific impulse of Hall thrusters. The control of low-frequency oscillations is an essential challenge in the space application of Hall thrusters. It is proved that the electric field is a highly important influence factor for low-frequency oscillations; therefore, application of a dynamic electric field is a practical way to control low-frequency oscillation.
Part of the book: Electric Field
The vastly improved durability of spacecrafts, coupled with the simultaneous continuous development of thrusters for high power output, has created a strong demand for Hall thrusters (HT) with long service lives. However, erosion of the discharge channel walls by high-energy ions is the most impactful and visible process that limits the lifetime of the thruster. This process is very sensitive to the operation mode of the thruster and the corresponding power density. We hereby present the results of our investigation on the factors that limit the lifetime of Hall thrusters, and three proven techniques for improving longevity of use including magnetic shielding (MS), wall-less technology, and aft-magnetic fields with large gradient.
Part of the book: Space Flight