Bi-Directional Excitation of Radio Frequency Waves Using a Helical Antenna in Non-Uniform Plasmas towards a Compact Magnetoplasma Thruster

DOI: 10.4236/ojapps.2014.413051   PDF   HTML   XML   2,820 Downloads   3,379 Views   Citations

Abstract

Magnetoplasma thruster is one of the attractive plasma engines for space propulsion in future manned deep space exploration. Usually two helical antennas are equipped to produce and heat plasmas with separate radio frequency sources. It is presented in this paper that a helical antenna, which is used to launch one wave mode in one direction so far, exhibits bi-directional nature, where the waves with different mode numbers are launched and couple with electrons and ions selectively in opposite directions. A two-dimensional numerical calculation is performed to predict wave propagation and power absorption in a non-uniform hydrogen plasma immersed in a non-uniform external static magnetic field, based on the hot plasma theory. It is confirmed that appropriate choice of the excitation condition of the antenna can select axial propagation direction of specific wave modes and consequently select a species that absorbs power from generated waves. A small-scale experiment is performed to confirm the prediction of the calculation. By measuring a change in electron and ion temperatures due to the wave launch from the helical antenna, it is found that both the production and heating at different axial positions are accomplished simultaneously by one antenna showing that another type of the radio frequency driven magnetoplasma thruster would be achieved.

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Yasaka, Y. , Hayashi, Y. , Takeno, H. and Nakamoto, S. (2014) Bi-Directional Excitation of Radio Frequency Waves Using a Helical Antenna in Non-Uniform Plasmas towards a Compact Magnetoplasma Thruster. Open Journal of Applied Sciences, 4, 523-532. doi: 10.4236/ojapps.2014.413051.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.

References

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