Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science in Astronautical Engineering


Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics

First Advisor

Richard D. Branam, PhD


A Hall thruster uses ionized xenon as a propellant for space propulsion applications. The heat produced by thruster components and the xenon plasma transfers to space and the spacecraft, impacting thruster and spacecraft design, as well as thruster efficiency and lifetime. Therefore, thermal information was gathered and analyzed in order to better understand the thermal characteristics of an operating thruster and to provide data applicable to improving the thruster efficiency and lifetime. This paper contains analysis of thruster temperatures obtained using a commercially available FLIR A40M thermographic imager in order to characterize a Busek Inc. 200W Hall Effect Thruster operating in Chamber 6 at the Air Force Research Laboratory at Edwards AFB, CA. This method is non-intrusive in that the thruster is viewed from outside the chamber through a zinc selenide window and provides temperature data on the entire visible area of the thruster for output to a computer for further processing. Maximum temperatures observed were above 773 K on the alumina plasma sprayed portion of the cathode, the anode, and on the thruster body near the exit plane. Magnet core winding temperature varied from 620 K near the exit plane to 475 K near the rear of the thruster. If these temperatures are near the magnet core temperature, it suggests they are not near the Curie temperature for iron of 1043 K or the Curie temperature of 858 K of iron alloyed with nickel. Initial heating rates of up to 138 K/min and initial cooling rates of up to 218 K/min were observed. The steady state temperature images and the heating data indicated a possible interaction between xenon and the thruster components.

AFIT Designator


DTIC Accession Number