Publication:
Development and Testing of a Field Ionized Ion Thruster for Microsatellite Applications

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Authors
Shrank, Bryan P.
Subjects
Space Propulsion
Microsatellite
Nanosatellite
Cubesat
Ion Thruster
Carbon Nanotube
Carbon Nanotube Pillar Array
Advisors
Romano, Marcello
Biblarz, Oscar
Date of Issue
2010-09
Date
Publisher
Monterey, California. Naval Postgraduate School
Language
Abstract
Development of a miniaturized ion thruster would enable microsatellites to sustain orbits over a long period of time with a high efficiency while minimizing mass and volume. The advent of carbon nanotube technology has made the development of a field ionized ion thruster possible. An interagency effort between the Naval Postgraduate School and the Nanotechnology Lab at NASA Ames Research Center into the development of a field ionized ion thruster is undertaken. A test apparatus is designed and constructed in order to allow testing of carbon nanotube samples grown on a silicon substrate with a 200 u[micron]m by 200 u[micron]m hole as the ionizing element of a new design for an ion thruster. Field emission tests show measured geometric electric field enhancement factors for our samples ranging from 1428 to 5229. Two of seven experiments show successful ionization of argon gas in a flow. A measured current of 2.1 x 10[negative 5 power] Amps is achieved from a 14 u[micron]m sample with a 113 u[micron]m gap distance and an applied voltage of 1000 Volts. Characterization of the Drag Coefficient of the sample orifice is also conducted to allow for determination of the mass flow rate and maximum expected current in future tests.
Type
Thesis
Description
Series/Report No
Department
Mechanical and Astronautical Engineering
Organization
Identifiers
NPS Report Number
Sponsors
Funder
Format
165 p.
Citation
Distribution Statement
Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.
Rights
This publication is a work of the U.S. Government as defined in Title 17, United States Code, Section 101. Copyright protection is not available for this work in the United States.
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