Fusion power has long been the dream of those seeking endless energy supplies, although efforts to smash atomic particles together and harness their energy have been dubious at best. Now a NASA scientist is proposing a new form of fusion-based energy to power a deep space probe.
Instead of using fusion’s excess energy to drive a generator, it would use the kinetic energy of radioactive decay particles to provide thrust.
Hovering landers or drones look as though they’re suspended in the air, because you can’t see the vortices caused by the propellers or the heat emitted by the thruster, or whatever mechanism enables the hovering. Well, here you can. And it proves that the act of hovering is anything but delicate.
Rockets burn for mere minutes. This engine runs for years, sending probes to Neptune at 10,000 miles an hour
By Michael Moyer
Posted 03.15.2006 at 3:00 am 1 Comment
NASA's Ion Engine
1. Charge the Fuel
Xenon is an inert gas, seemingly useless for rocketry. Before it´s used as fuel, the engine must convert it into an electrically charged gas, also called a plasma. An electron emitter fires electrons at the xenon gas. When an electron hits a xenon atom, it strips off an additional electron from the atom´s shell to create a positively charged xenon ion.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.