Walker, Mitchell L. R.

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    Design and construction of an annular helicon closed drift thruster
    (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2009-01) Walker, Mitchell L. R. ; Kieckhafer, Alexander W.
    The Georgia Institute of Technology (GA Tech) has completed a three-phase process which developed an annular helicon plasma source and integrated it into a Hall Effect Thruster (HET). Phase 1 designed the annular helicon source and began plasma measurements using an RF-compensated Langmuir probe. Phase 2 extended the operating conditions of the annular helicon and used a highly-efficient commercial Langmuir probe unit for rapid data acquisition and development of design criteria for the Annular Helicon Closed Drift Thruster (AHCDT) device. Phase 3 took the results of Phase 2, developed the design for the AHCDT, and began performance testing. Initial tests of the AHCDT show that when operated at conditions similar to a HET, the thrust output of the AHCDT is within 10% of the original HET. Additionally, the AHCDT has shown the capability to operate at discharge voltages much lower than a HET, thus enabling future performance characterization and optimization at high thrust-to-power ratios.