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NASA — New Solar Electric Ion Propulsion Engine Image Released

Editor’s note: NASA + solar… big geek win! And holy cow, Batman — look at that wicked NASA image! Try not to drool on your keyboard while you enjoy this Solar Love repost.

NASA recently released a new image of its newest solar-electric propulsion thruster design. The design utilizes xenon ions for propulsion, offering the possibility of a much more efficient means of space travel than chemical rockets can provide. More energy-efficient space travel sounds good, and it’s solar-powered to boot. 🙂

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The new image shows the cutting-edge solar-electric propulsion thruster that is currently in development at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. An earlier version of this design is currently flying on NASA’s Dawn mission — NASA’s first purely exploratory mission to use ion propulsion.

This new design is currently being considered for use as a part of the Asteroid Initiative — NASA’s proposed mission to capture a small near-Earth asteroid and then put into orbit near the Moon, where astronauts can then explore it easily.

The great advantage of ion propulsion — and why the technology is viewed as having so much potential — is its efficiency. The technology offers the possibility of traveling further, faster, and cheaper than conventional technologies allow.

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Written By

James Ayre's background is predominantly in geopolitics and history, but he has an obsessive interest in pretty much everything. After an early life spent in the Imperial Free City of Dortmund, James followed the river Ruhr to Cofbuokheim, where he attended the University of Astnide. And where he also briefly considered entering the coal mining business. He currently writes for a living, on a broad variety of subjects, ranging from science, to politics, to military history, to renewable energy.


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