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Invited Tutorial : Physics and modeling of Hall Thruster

par Agnès Gaunie Picart - publié le

In this recently published Invited Tutorial Jean Pierre Boeuf describes the basic physics of Hall thrusters and gives a summary of the research efforts that have been devoted to the modelling and understanding of these devices in the last 20 years

Hall thrusters are very efficient and competitive electric propulsion devices for satellites and are currently in use in a number of telecommunications and government spacecraft. Their power spans from 100 W to 20 kW, with thrust between a few mN and 1 N and specific impulse values between 1000 and 3000 s. The basic idea of Hall thrusters consists in generating a large local electric field in a plasma by using a transverse magnetic field to reduce the electron conductivity. This electric field can extract positive ions from the plasma and accelerate them to high velocity without extracting grids, providing the thrust. These principles are simple in appearance but the physics of Hall thrusters is very intricate and non-linear because of the complex electron transport across the magnetic field and its coupling with the electric field and the neutral atom density. Although the predictive capabilities of the models are still not sufficient for a full computer aided design of Hall thrusters, significant progress has been made in the qualitative and quantitative understanding of these devices.

link to tutorial