Hall Thruster Swirl Torque Measurements – Penn State (Behrend)


Penn State – Behrend


Nickel Class (2020 – 2021)


Braden Moze, Mechanical Engineering
Alexis Griesacker, Mechanical Engineering
Ethan Fontana, Mechanical Engineering
Jack Kline (ASU – Tempe), Mechanical Engineering




The Psyche spacecraft will rely on a type of electric propulsion known as Hall thrusters in order to propel itself from Earth to the Psyche asteroid. Although these thrusters are super efficient, they do impart a small amount of undesirable rotation or torque on the spacecraft that has to be counteracted by other systems. Due to the small magnitude of these imparted torques, they are very difficult to measure during ground testing, which hinders the ability of engineers to accurately estimate their impact on the spacecraft during its mission. The student team will design a method of measuring swirl torques during ground tests of Hall thrusters. In addition to documenting the design process (including trade studies, requirements, etc.), final deliverables will include: a high-fidelity CAD package of the proposed solution, simulations of the proposed solution using physics-based modeling software (e.g., COMSOL, ANSYS, etc.), detailed visualizations of the proposed concept, or other similar computer-based products.

This work was created in partial fulfillment of Penn State – Behrend 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.