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Pulsed inductive thruster

Pulsed inductive thrusters or PITs as they are commonly abbreviated are a form of spacecraft propulsion that uses perpendicular electric and magnetic fields to accelerate a propellant[?]. A nozzle[?] releases a puff of gas (usually argon) which spreads across a flat induction coil of wire about 1 meter across. A bank of capacitors releases a pulse of electric current lasting 10 microseconds into the coil, generating a radial magnetic field. This induces a circular electrical field in the gas, ionizing it and causing the ions to revolve in the opposite direction as the original pulse of current. Because their motion is perpendicular to the magnetic field, they are pushed out into space.

Unlike other electromagnetic drives, PIT requires no electrodes (which are susceptible to erosion) and its power can be scaled up simply by increasing the number of pulses per second. A 1-megawatt system would pulse 200 times per second.



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