The radio frequency Ion thruster uses a high-frequency electromagnetic field to ionize xenon gas atoms to form a plasma containing free ‘light’ electrons and ‘heavy’ positive ions. The heavy positive ions are then accelerated by an electrostatic field before being ejected to cause thrust.
After the ions have been ejected from the thruster, electrons are added from a neutralizer. The plasma is thereby neutralized which prevents the satellite from becoming charged.
RIT μX is the smallest Radiofrequency Ion Thruster of the electric propulsion thruster portfolio of ArianeGroup. An electric propulsion system based on RIT μX answers to advanced and challenging mission requirements thanks to special characteristics demonstrated during extensive tests: Complex thrust profiles, high dynamics and high resolution, thrust linearity, very low noise and very long thruster lifetime.