College - Author 1

College of Engineering

Department - Author 1

Aerospace Engineering Department

Degree Name - Author 1

BS in Aerospace Engineering



Primary Advisor

Kira Abercromby, College of Engineering, Aerospace Engineering Department


This report explores the magnetic and electric fields within the Cal Poly Miniature Xenon Ion (MiXI) Thruster V3 in order to create a comprehensive electric and magnetic model of the plasma chamber to analyze and test the current thruster configurations and changes to the existing thruster. This model is used to analyze the operation and efficiency of the ion thruster and the plasma environment within the plasma chamber. This model explores the ionization and electron collision rates during operation of the thruster to measure the efficiency of the current thruster configuration, also determining the theoretical Isp and thrust of the ion thruster.
This model was created from the design and validated against the results of the CP MiXI V3 thruster, designed and tested by David Knapp. Considering a test case of Knapp’s thruster, the model predicts primary electron impact probabilities at 37.15%, a mass utilization of 62.92%, an Isp of 2057 s, and a thrust of 1.09 mN. The values of mass utilization, Isp, and thrust are in error by 109.74%, 37.16%, and -9.07%, respectively, when compared to the test case [3]. Further refinements of this model and analysis tools will assist in creating a more efficient and optimized ion thruster.