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]