Neutral Flux Probe


Michigan State University


Iron Class (2018 – 2019)

Student Team

Spring 2019

Tony Anason, Mechanical Engineering
Drew Dunker, Mechanical Engineering
Collin Germain, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Zheng Liu, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Giancarlo Martinez, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Paul Schulman, Mechanical Engineering
Jordan Thayer, Mechanical Engineering
Sarah Wegert, Mechanical Engineering
Alek Zultowski, Electrical & Computer Engineering

Fall 2018

Val Gueoguiev, Mechanical Engineering
Cameron Hodgson, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Ivan Gueoguiev Iovtchev, Mechanical Engineering
Suhas Kodali, Mehcanical Engineering
Andrej Serafimovski, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Haochen Sun, Electrical & Computer Engineering
Joey Xie, Mechanical Engineering
Fan Xu, Mechanical Engineering

Scientific & Technical Guidance

Dr. Jason Frieman, NASA Glenn Research Center

Academic Guidance

Dr. John Albrecht, Associate Professor and Associate Chair for Research, MSU Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Sergey Baryshev, Assistant Professor, MSU Electrical and Computer Engineering
Dr. Giles Brereton, Associate Professor, MSU Mechanical Engineering
Dr. Jim Lang,Industrial Liaison for Design Projects, MSU Mechanical Engineering

Project Description

The Psyche spacecraft will utilize an electric propulsion system composed of a set of Hall effect thrusters (HETs) in order to enable the spacecraft to reach the asteroid and maintain each of its science orbits. On the ground, HETs are testing in large vacuum facilities in order to simulate space conditions. However, these facilities are unable to perfectly replicate orbital conditions, resulting in higher background pressures during ground tests relative to what is experienced on-orbit. Several studies have shown that HET performance varies with background pressure due to the interactions between the thruster and residual propellant left in the test facility. In order to better understand this interaction, a diagnostic is needed to detect and track the motion of these residual propellant atoms (i.e., neutrals) in these test facilities, along with a way to move and position that diagnostic.


Plot of the Torque curve.


CAD design rendering 1.


CAD design rendering 2.


CAD rendering of carriage.


CAD rendering of probe cradle.


CAD rendering of the traversing mechanism.


CAD rendering of the y-axis carriage

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Michigan State University Capstone Courses “ECE 480″ and “ME 481”. The work is a result of the Psyche Student Collaborations component of NASA’s Psyche Mission ( “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.