This Is NASA's Solar Propulsion Engine Of The Future

This Tron-esque glowing blue ring isn't the latest designer lamp. It's actually NASA's cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster, which is currently being tested in the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Using xenon ions to create its thrust, the engine is being considered for use as part of the Asteroid Initiative — NASA's plan to capture a small asteroid and redirect it safely to an orbit around Earth. In fact, the engine is a radically updated and redesigned version of the one currently powering NASA's Dawn mission as it heads towards the asteroid belt. [NASA]

Picture: NASA/JPL-Caltech


Comments

    Anybody else see an optical illusion with that ring...?
    Oh, and interesting science too.... :)

      Yep not sure if it is facing left or right.

        i think its facing left because of the output of the centre hole..

      that outter ring really Feks your mind...

    What a great article, It contains absolutly NO information about the engine itself. Pat yourself on the back Giz.

    But that's ok, because you're going to moderate this comment anyway and people MAY get to see it sometime next year.

      Dude follow the NASA link at the bottom of the article, that is all the info NASA has posted about it as well, what do you expect Jamie to do, pull some random info out of his ass just for you.

        so gizmodo should just post links then.... he does have a point just because there is a link doesnt mean we cant get the info here

    Curious to see what kind of thrust it can produce. Ion propulsion has been around for a while but it's (thus far) extremely weak.

      Of course, but it can fire continuously for days or weeks.

        Yep. It's good for short range things (orbital corrections, etc) but you only really use it on long range stuff if you don't care how long it takes to get there. Voyager would still be in the solar system if it had been launched with ion engines, which is a bit of a sad thought, to me at least.

    NASA’s Solar Engine Car Cigarette Lighter Of The Future.

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