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Retarding Potential Analyzer Design and Result Analysis for Ion Energy Distribution Measurement of the Thruster Plume in the Laboratory

Authors: Ma Ya-li, Tang Fu-jun, Xue Yu-xiong, Chen Yi-feng, Gao Xin, Wang Yi, Tian Kai, Yan Ze-dong

Abstract:

Plasma plume will be produced and arrive at spacecraft when the electric thruster operates on orbit. It-s important to characterize the thruster plasma parameters because the plume has significant effects or hazards on spacecraft sub-systems and parts. Through the ground test data of the desired parameters, the major characteristics of the thruster plume will be achieved. Also it is very important for optimizing design of Ion thruster. Retarding Potential Analyzer (RPA) is an effective instrument for plasma ion energy per unit charge distribution measurement. Special RPA should be designed according to certain plume plasma parameters range and feature. In this paper, major principles usable for good RPA design are discussed carefully. Conform to these principles, a four-grid planar electrostatic energy analyzer RPA was designed to avoid false data, and details were discussed including construction, materials, aperture diameter and so on. At the same time, it was designed more suitable for credible and long-duration measurements in the laboratory. In the end, RPA measurement results in the laboratory were given and discussed.

Keywords: Thruster plume ion energy distributions, retarding potential analyzer, ground test

Digital Object Identifier (DOI): doi.org/10.5281/zenodo.1079416

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