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A review of low-power applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thruster research and the development of an improved performance model
journal contributionposted on 2023-01-23, 03:20 authored by Jakob Balkenhohl, Jakub GlowackiJakub Glowacki, Nicholas Rattenbury, John Cater
AbstractNumerous thrust and voltage models for applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thrusters (AF-MPDTs) exist, however, all have been formulated using data for conventionally high current AF-MPDTs. To address a perceived gap in knowledge about smaller thrusters, a review of low-power applied-field magnetoplasmadynamic thruster research and published thrust and voltage models is presented. Using available experimental data limited to a low-power high magnetic field strength regime, a database of pertinent physical and operational parameters is established and used in a comparative study to evaluate the accuracy of published performance models. Statistical analysis of the models was used to create a corrected low-power AF-MPDT performance model. When applied to the database, an improvement in model accuracy is achieved. It is found that AF-MPDTs in the low-power regime with high applied magnetic field strengths can present a feasible alternative to other electric propulsion methods. However, the resulting sensitivity of achievable performance to physical and operational parameters requires careful design and optimization for a given mission.