1990 年 38 巻 441 号 p. 551-558
Although a pair of 5-cm diameter mercury propellant ion engines were successfully operated on Japanese Engineering Test Satellite (ETS)-III, the operational time assigned for the space mission was limited to under 500 hours. A long-life test on the ground was necessary to confirm the merits of the ion engine system. A recycle test of a hollow cathode was planned because the hollow cathode was one of the most susceptible components in the engine system. The tested hollow cathode was fabricated by the same process as the one used in ETS-III and operated with a power conditioner similar to that of the ETS-III. As a result, over 8, 000 on/off cycle tests were completed. Performance mapping was carried out, after every 1, 000th cycle, and the results plotted exhibited no degradation. Surface analysis using SEM, XMA and AES was carried out for the inner portion of the hollow cathode, which was disassembled after the test. The conclusions of the above three analyses were that no severe degradation was exhibited after the recycle test and that durability was verified for 10, 000 hours of future operation.