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Date of Award


Document Type

Campus Access Master's Report

Degree Name

Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering (MS)

Administrative Home Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering-Engineering Mechanics

Advisor 1

William Predebon

Committee Member 1

L. Brad King

Committee Member 2

Jason D. Sommerville


This work explores the effects of cathode position on Orbion Space Technology’s Aurora thruster performance and ignition characteristics. The cathode was moved to points within a test matrix close to the thruster, in and about the thruster separatrix. Weak trends appeared in thrust and efficiency, whereas strong trends in cathode to ground and beam divergence efficiency components. This appears to agree with Sommerville’s [1] observations of cathode positioning effects upon a BPT-2000 Hall thruster. However, as the cathode moves from without to within the separatrix, there does not appear to be any sudden increase in performance. As a whole, it would appear that even with a novel magnetic circuit, cathode placement still causes changes in performance, appearing to increase performance as it is moved towards the discharge channel. Observations of ignition characteristics in preliminary testing imply cathode orientation has a strong impact upon ignition delay and repeatability and should be researched in the future.