Hollow Cathode Visualization – ASU


Arizona State University


Copper Class (2021 – 2022)


Travis Andring, Computer Science
Jacob Blackstone, Computer Science
Patrick Chu, Computer Science
Caleb Jaramillo, Computer Science
Andrew Lies, Engineering Management (Electronics & Semiconductors)
Jacob J. Lyons, Informatics with a Focus Area in Digital Culture


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


As the Psyche mission begins its journey in late summer 2022 out to the asteroid belt, it will first be aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch vehicle, then make its own way out into the solar system using a solar electric propulsion system and a gravitational assist from Mars to reach the asteroid belt, specifically to the Psyche asteroid, in order to determine whether Psyche (the asteroid) is remnant core material from a planetesimal, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to the Earth’s core, and what its surface is like.

Where our project comes in is the visualization of hollow cathodes, a piece of technology used in a variety of industrial applications, as they are used in the Hall thrusters aboard the Psyche spacecraft. Our goal is to help educate the general public as to how hollow cathodes function as a part of the onboard thrusters and make it easy for anyone to understand how this simple piece of technology can ensure the success of the Psyche Mission.

The deliverables we developed as a part of this project were a Unity WebGL build comprised of a 2D animation of the process, and a site (linked below) to host the visualization on.

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Arizona State University Capstone Courses. 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.