Modern Physics

Ionic propulsion

Ionic propulsion , also known as electrostatic propulsion , is one of the most efficient ways to propel and put spacecraft into orbit with minimal expenditure of fuel.

In October 1998, NASA launched the space probe “ Deep Space I ” with this type of propulsion. The results showed that although the acceleration is very small (since its speed increases by 7 m/s in one day), this acceleration can be maintained for much longer than in ships that burn liquid fuel. Deep Space I uses xenon gas as fuel.

The xenon atoms are ionized and accelerated by an electric field to very high speeds and then thrown backwards, propelling the spacecraft.

The methods used to accelerate ions are varied , although all methods are based on the charge-mass relationship of the ions, which accelerates them to high speeds using as a principle also high electric fields. Thus, using a small amount of reaction mass, these thrusters achieve a high thrust and consequently greater efficiency compared to liquid fuel thrusters.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button