Arcjet anode plasma measurements using electrostatic probes

Nicholas T. Tiliakos, Rodney L. Burton, Herman Krier

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


A 1-kW hydrazine arcjet thruster has been modified for internal probing of the anode sheath boundary layer with an array of 14 electrostatic microprobes flush mounted into the anode body. Axial and azimuthal distributions of the plasma properties floating potential, anode sheath potential, wall current density, electron number density, and electron temperature have been obtained for arc currents between 7.8 and 10.6 A and propellant flow rates of 40-60 mg/s. The specific power ranged from 18.8 to 27.4 MJ/ kg. Azimuthal symmetry has been verified for all arcjet operating conditions. The electron temperature data show that the near-anode plasma is highly nonequilibrium. Most of the current density and anode heating is located within 2-4 mm of the constrictor exit, with the location affected more by mass flow rate than by arc current. The axial anode heating distribution is closely coupled to current density and accounts for ∼18-24% of the total input power. Reasonable agreement between a numerical model and experimental results is found for a constant value of the electron inelastic energy-loss factor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)560-567
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Propulsion and Power
Issue number4
StatePublished - 1998

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Fuel Technology
  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Space and Planetary Science


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