Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard D. Branam, PhD


The thermal characteristics of a Hall thruster directly influence thruster and spacecraft design. High temperatures affect the magnetic coil capabilities and cause higher insulator erosion rates, influencing both thruster performance and lifetime. The Hall thruster transfers heat through both radiation and conduction, and the spacecraft must handle this additional thermal energy. An infrared camera provides a non-intrusive method to analyze the thermal characteristics of an operational Hall thruster. This thesis contains the thermal analysis of a Busek Co. Inc. 200 W Hall thruster, using a FLIR ThermaCAM SC640 infrared camera. The Space Propulsion Analysis and System Simulator Laboratory at the Air Force Institute of Technology on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base provided the location for thruster set up and operation. The infrared camera furnishes the surface temperatures for the entire thruster, and approximates the transient heating behavior during start up, steady state, and shut down. Thermocouples verify and correct the camera data. Experimentally determined emissivities characterize the materials of the thruster. In addition, a view factor analysis between the camera pixels and the alumina sprayed portion of the cathode determines the exchange of radiation between the pixels and cathode surface. This process develops a technique to map surface temperatures of complex geometries with confidence in the actual values. Accurately mapping the surface temperatures of a Hall Effect thruster will improve both thruster efficiency and lifetime, and predict the thruster's thermal load on a satellite.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number