Validation and Characterization of a Laboratory Ion Source for Testing Thermal Space-Plasma Instruments
Prior to launch, space craft instruments need to be tested in a relevant environment to prove operational functionality. Thus, we have developed an ion source to stimulate thermal plasma instruments in a vacuum chamber. This dissertation presents the mechanical design of the source, simulations of the potentials and charged particle trajectories in and around the source, and vacuum chamber measurements of the emitted ion beam. Once the ion source is understood, it is successfully used to test a typical ion instrument. Further aspects of the ion source, efficiency, thermionic filament emission, and collision frequencies are also discussed.