Electric Hall Thruster for NASA’s Psyche Spacecraft Propulsion

Psyche Electric Hall Thruster

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An electrical Hall thruster, similar to those that will be utilized to move NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, goes through screening at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The blue radiance is produced by the xenon propellant, a neutral gas utilized in cars and truck headlights and plasma Televisions. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft, set to introduce in August 2022, will take a trip to its target in the primary asteroid belt in between Mars and Jupiter under the power of super-efficient electrical propulsion. This picture records an operating electric Hall thruster similar to those that will be utilized to move the Psyche spacecraft. This picture was taken at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California on May 20, 2020 with an iPhone, through the thick window of a vacuum chamber utilized to mimic the environment of deep area.

The thruster works by turning xenon gas, a neutral gas utilized in cars and truck headlights and plasma Televisions, into xenon ions. As the xenon ions are sped up out of the thruster, they produce the thrust that will move the spacecraft. The xenon plasma gives off a blue radiance, seen here, as it runs. An observer in area taking a trip behind Psyche would see the blue radiance of plasma routing behind the spacecraft. Solar selections will offer the electrical energy that powers the thrusters. Hall thrusters will be utilized for the very first time beyond lunar orbit, showing that they might contribute in supporting future objectives to deep area.

Arizona State University in Tempe leads the Psyche objective. JPL is accountable for the objective’s total management, system engineering, combination and test, and objective operations. Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California, is supplying the high-power solar electrical propulsion spacecraft chassis.

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