Développement d’un propulseur plasma à résonance cyclotron électronique pour les satellites

Abstract : Electric propulsion is an alternative technology to the chemical propulsion that enables reducing propellant consumption for satellites. ONERA is developing an electric ECR thruster with a thrust around 1 mN and an electric power less than 50 W. The thruster creates a plasma by electron cyclotron resonance and accelerates it through a magnetic nozzle. This technology has the advantage of expelling a quasi-neutral plasma and avoiding the utilization of a neutralizer (which is one of the most fragile and costly part of the other electric propulsion technologies). In this thesis work, an optimization of the measurement diagnostics is done. The work also aims at identifying the important parameters for the performances of the thruster and at improving the understanding of underlying physics, in order to increase the thruster efficiency. Several prototypes have been developed and a thrust stand that can directly measure the thrust has been modified. Some parametric studies have been led and have shown that the thruster performance strongly depends on xenon mass-flow rate to microwave power ratio. It has also shown that the external conductor of the plasma source and the ambient pressure have a significant influence on the performances. Following a geometric optimization, a maximum total efficiency of more than 12% has been obtained. Separate measurements of the magnetic and thermal thrust have shown that the magnetic thrust is the main component of the total thrust. A 1D-3V PIC code has been used to simulate the behavior of the thruster. The analysis of the results has shown that the ECR heating and particle acceleration in the magnetic nozzle could be properly computed. The role of the parallel and perpendicular component of electron pressure has been evidenced by this work.
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Théo Vialis. Développement d’un propulseur plasma à résonance cyclotron électronique pour les satellites. Physique des plasmas [physics.plasm-ph]. SORBONNE UNIVERSITE, 2018. Français. ⟨tel-02076358⟩

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