Hall-effect thrusters are a type of ion thruster that uses an electric field to accelerate ions, creating thrust. They are highly efficient and have a long operational life, making them suitable for various space missions, including satellite station-keeping, orbit raising, and deep space exploration.
The main components of a Hall-effect thruster are a discharge chamber, a magnetic field, and an anode and cathode. A gas, typically xenon, is injected into the discharge chamber, where it is ionized by electrons. The electric field accelerates the ions, generating thrust. The magnetic field, produced by electromagnets, helps trap the electrons and enhances the ionization process.
Hall-effect thrusters are advantageous because they have a high specific impulse, meaning they are more fuel-efficient than chemical propulsion systems. Additionally, they have fewer moving parts, resulting in a lower likelihood of mechanical failure.