Hall Thruster Diagnostics Visualization – ASU


Arizona State University


Copper Class (2021 – 2022)


Peter Bugala, Computer Science
Jacob Burton, Computer Science
Alexander Darrah, Engineering Management
Anderson Sanchez Montoya, Computer Science
Albert Schaffer, Computer Science
Tyler Vaillancourt, Computer Science


Dr. Jason Frieman, NASA Glenn Research Center
Carol Tolbert, NASA Glenn Research Center


Dr. Helen Chavez, Lecturer, Computer Science, School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, ASU
Dr. Joe Juarez, Lecturer, Industrial Engineering and Engineering Management, School of Computing and Augmented Intelligence, ASU


When the Psyche mission launches in 2022, it will be the first time humankind will be visiting a metal-rich asteroid. But how will we get there? The Psyche mission is equipped with electric Hall Thrusters which will be used as the main propulsion system once it has left our atmosphere! Since there will be no chance to test the thrusters in space, different diagnostic tests have been devised on Earth to analyze how the thrusters will perform in space. The thrusters exhaust a plume of plasma and ions to propel the spacecraft. The ions within this plume are hotter than 10,000°F and are travelling faster than 20,000 MPH. Therefore, it is important to understand and measure how this plume of ions is being ejected. There are two important diagnostics used for studying the plume: the Faraday Probe and the Retarding Potential Analyzer.

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Arizona State University Capstone Courses “IEE 486/CSE 486”. The work is a result of the Psyche Student Collaborations component of NASA’s Psyche Mission (https://psyche.asu.edu). “Psyche: A Journey to a Metal World” [Contract number NNM16AA09C] is part of the NASA Discovery Program mission to solar system targets. Trade names and trademarks of ASU and NASA are used in this work for identification only. Their usage does not constitute an official endorsement, either expressed or implied, by Arizona State University or National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of ASU or NASA.