Lifetime is one of the urgent problems in ion thrusters. In these circumstances, most of the ion thruster researches have been focused on lifetime problems. In practice, performing actual lifetime tests requires devastating time and money, computer simulation is a powerful tool which enables parametric study for various operating conditions and grid geometries. The paper presents efficient two-dimensional and three-dimensional optics codes which have been developed to analyze life-limiting mechanisms of ion thruster optics such as grid structural failure and electron backstreaming due to charge-exchange ions. Calculation results showed that the codes predicted grid erosion with good accuracy within a reasonable computation time.
The Japan Society for Aeronautical and Space Sciences