Combination of optical emission spectroscopy and multivariate data analysis techniques as a versatile non-invasive tool for characterizing xenon\/krypton mixed gas plasma inside operating ion thrusters
Non-invasive assessment of the plasma parameters is a useful tool for a reliable characterization of many electric thrusters for space applications. Due to high costs, limited availability, and growing use of electric propulsion in spaceflight, alternatives to Xe as a propellant are becoming increasingly important. One option is to use the lighter ... noble gas krypton or xenon/krypton gas mixtures as a propellant. We propose a versatile analytical approach for establishing empirical correlations between plasma parameters and optical emission (OE) spectroscopy utilizing principal component analysis (PCA). Our approach allows us to establish a surjective mapping of individual OE spectra via their PCA scores onto the corresponding plasma parameters. We prove the feasibility of this approach for Xe, Kr, and Xe/Kr mixed plasmas demonstrating that it is applicable for a wide range of propellant candidates. A major advantage is that the approach does not rely on any microscopic modeling of the OE spectra of the plasma. After having established corresponding reference mappings, the approach can be explored for determining non-invasively and spatially resolved plasma parameters of the propellant plasma of various kinds of operating ion thrusters, which operate in the same plasma regime as the reference plasma. Thus, this method may contribute to shorter qualification and testing times of ion thrusters.
Original publication in
Journal of applied physics 131 (2022), 1-14, 053301