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Ion Engine Under Consideration for Jupiter Mission Passes Test

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posted on May, 11 2004 @ 06:26 AM
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The event marked the first performance test of the Nuclear Electric Xenon Ion System (Nexis) ion engine at the high-efficiency, high-power, and high-thrust operating conditions needed for use in nuclear electric propulsion applications.

For this test the Nexis engine was powered using commercial utility electrical power. Ion engines used on the proposed Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter spacecraft would draw their power from an on-board space nuclear reactor.





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[Edited on 11-5-2004 by observer]




posted on May, 11 2004 @ 06:36 AM
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This xenon ion engine prototype, photographed through a port of the vacuum chamber where it was being tested at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, shows the faint blue glow of charged atoms being emitted from the engine. A similar engine powered the Deep Space 1 spacecraft

Some Pictures:







Ion Engine Operation

The fuel used in DS1's ion engine is xenon, a chemically inert, colorless, odorless, and tasteless gas. The xenon fuel fills a chamber ringed with magnets. When the ion engine is running, electrons emitted from a cathode strike atoms of xenon, knocking away one of the electrons orbiting an atom's nucleus and making it into an ion. The magnets' magnetic field controls the flow of electrons and, by increasing the electrons' residence time in the chamber, increases the efficiency of the ionization.






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