Skip to main content

Propellant Influence on Electromagnetic Environment Generated by Stationary Plasma Thrusters


Possible aspects of violation of the functional safety of spacecraft in terms of electromagnetic compatibility with electric rocket thrusters in their work on alternative working substances are considered. The procedure of experimental determination of spectral–time characteristics of own electromagnetic radiation of laboratory model of stationary plasma thruster SPT-70 developed by the Research Institute of Applied Mechanics and Electrodynamics of the Moscow Aviation Institute is described. Measurements of noise emissions were carried out on a vacuum installation with a “radiotransparent” compartment and a shielded echo-free camera in the frequency range of 1–12 GHz for typical discharge capacities (600, 800, and 1000 W), vertical and horizontal polarization, and various working substances used (krypton and xenon). The conducted studies have allowed obtaining new comparative results of the assessment of spectral characteristics of SPT-70 radiation for standard modes and prospective working bodies within the orthogonal polarization bases. The new results should include information about the radiation characteristics of SPT-70 in the time area. It is shown that the transition from xenon to krypton retains the pulsed nature of the radiation of a stationary plasma thruster, leading not only to an increase in the amplitude of pulses, but also to an increase in the frequency of repetition of “bursts” and an increase in their duration, which requires additional measures to ensure electromagnetic compatibility in order to preserve the functional safety of the spacecraft.

This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.

Fig. 1.
Fig. 2.
Fig. 3.
Fig. 4.
Fig. 5.
Fig. 6.
Fig. 7.


  1. Smith, D.J. and Simpson, K.G.L., Functional Safety: A Straightforward Guide to IEC61508 and Related Standards, London: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2001.

    Google Scholar 

  2. Smith, D.J. and Simpson, K.G.L., The Safety Critical Systems Handbook: A Straightforward Guide to Functional Safety: IEC 61508 (2010 Edition), IEC 61511 (2016 Edition) and Related Guidance, London: Butterworth-Heinemann, 2020, 5th ed.

  3. Fortescue, P., Swinerd, G., and Stark, J., Spacecraft Systems Engineering, John Wiley and Sons, 2011, 4th ed.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  4. Nikitina, V.F., Smirnova, N.N., Smirnova, M.N., et al., On board electronic devices safety subject to high frequency electromagnetic radiation effects, Acta Astronaut., 2017, vol. 135, pp. 181–186.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  5. Akhmetzhanov, R.V., Bogatyi, A.V., D’yakonov, G.A., et al., Electric rocket engines of a new generation for small spacecraft, Izv. Ross. Akad. Nauk. Energetika, 2019, no. 3, pp. 3–13.

  6. Kuge, J., Bodin, P., Persson, S., and Rathsman, P., Accommodating electric propulsion on SMART-1, Acta Astronaut., 2004, vol. 55, no. 2, pp. 121–130.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  7. Krejcia, D., Seiferta, B., and Scharlemann, C., Endurance testing of a pulsed plasma thruster for nanosatellites, Acta Astronaut., 2013, vol. 91, pp. 187–193.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  8. Yu Qin, Kan Xie, Ning Guo, Zun Zhang, et al., The analysis of high amplitude of potential oscillations near the hollow cathode of ion thruster, Acta Astronaut., 2017, vol. 134, pp. 265–277.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  9. Shuai Cao, Xuan Wang, Junxue Ren, et al., Performance and plume evolutions during the lifetime test of a Hall-effect thruster, Acta Astronaut., 2020, vol. 170, pp. 509–520.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  10. Pelton, J.N. and Madry, S., Handbook of Small Satellites: Technology, Design, Manufacture, Applications, Economics and Regulation, Cham: Springer, 2020.

    Book  Google Scholar 

  11. Kim, V., Zakharchenko, V., Merkurev, D., et al., Influence of xenon and krypton flow rates through the acceleration channel of Morozov’s stationary plasma thruster on the thrust efficiency, Plasma Phys. Rep., 2019, vol. 45, no. 1, pp. 11–20.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  12. Kim, V., Merkurev, D., Shilov, E., et al., Study of the low-power krypton-operated stationary plasma thruster plume, IOP Conf. Series: Materials Science and Engineering, Vol. 927: 13th Intern. Conf. Applied Mathematics and Mechanics in the Aerospace Industry (AMMAI’2020), Sept. 6–13, 2020, Alushta, Russia, 2020, p. 012053.

  13. Plokhikh, A.P., Vazhenin, N.A., and Popov, G.A., Analysis of the influence of electromagnetic emission from stationary plasma thrusters on the interference immunity of the Earth–spacecraft communication channel, Cosmic Res., 2019, vol. 57, no. 5, pp. 317–324.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  14. Beiting, E., Pollard, J., Khayms, V., and Werthman, L., Electromagnetic emissions to 60 GHz from a BPT4000 EDM Hall thruster, Int. Electric Propulsion Conf., Toulouse, France, March 17–21, 2003, p. IEPC-03-129.

  15. Beiting, E., Eapen, X., Pollard, J., Gambon, M., Marchandise, F., and Oberg, M., Electromagnetic emissions from PPS®1350 Hall thruster, 31st Int. Electric Propulsion Conf., Ann Arbor, USA, September 20–24, 2009, p. IEPC-2009-071.

  16. Ciarallia, S., Colettib, M., and Gabriela, S.B., Results of the qualification test campaign of a pulsed plasma thruster for CubeSat propulsion (PPTCUP), Acta Astronaut., 2016, vol. 121, pp. 314–322.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

  17. Plokhikh, A.P., Vazhenin, N.A., Popov, G.A., and Shilov, S.O., Spectral characteristics of self-emission from electric thrusters with closed electron drift in the radio-frequency band for various propellants, Cosmic Res., 2022, vol. 60, no. 5, pp. 358–365.

    Article  ADS  Google Scholar 

Download references

Author information

Authors and Affiliations


Corresponding author

Correspondence to A. P. Plokhikh.

Ethics declarations

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Rights and permissions

Reprints and Permissions

About this article

Check for updates. Verify currency and authenticity via CrossMark

Cite this article

Plokhikh, A.P., Vazhenin, N.A. & Merkurev, D.V. Propellant Influence on Electromagnetic Environment Generated by Stationary Plasma Thrusters. Cosmic Res 61, 405–411 (2023).

Download citation

  • Received:

  • Revised:

  • Accepted:

  • Published:

  • Issue Date:

  • DOI: