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ESA accelerates towards a new space thruster

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posted on Dec, 13 2005 @ 08:02 AM
Helicon reactor in operation
ESA accelerates towards a new space thruster

13 December 2005
ESA has confirmed the principle of a new space thruster that may ultimately give much more thrust than today’s electric propulsion techniques. The concept is an ingenious one, inspired by the northern and southern aurorae, the glows in the sky that signal increased solar activity.

“Essentially the concept exploits a natural phenomenon we see taking place in space,” says Dr Roger Walker of ESA’s Advanced Concepts Team. "When the solar wind, a ‘plasma’ of electrified gas released by the Sun, hits the magnetic field of the Earth, it creates a boundary consisting of two plasma layers. Each layer has differing electrical properties and this can accelerate some particles of the solar wind across the boundary, causing them to collide with the Earth’s atmosphere and create the aurora."
In essence, a plasma double layer is the electrostatic equivalent of a waterfall. Just as water molecules pick up energy as they fall between the two different heights, so electrically charged particles pick up energy as they travel through the layers of different electrical properties.

Researchers Christine Charles and Rod Boswell at the Australian National University in Canberra, first created plasma double layers in their laboratory in 2003 and realised their accelerating properties could enable new spacecraft thrusters. This led the group to develop a prototype called the Helicon Double Layer Thruster......

same space as the main truster of the smart one they claim yet 100kw poweroutput and same efficiency.
well the succesor of the ion engine is there.

posted on Dec, 13 2005 @ 08:06 AM
So this is in essense the first evolution of plasma bassed propulsion?

posted on Dec, 14 2005 @ 08:46 AM
new link to bbc news site with descriptions (images) ect.

posted on Dec, 15 2005 @ 09:33 PM
I'm surprised they are finally starting on plasma propulsion.

The U.S has been working on it for a few years now.

VASMIR- the full name is the Variable Specific Impulse Magnoplasma Rocket. This rocket uses radio waves to heat the fuel to 10 million degrees and because this system lacks electrodes it is less likely to break down. Also, this rocket is unique because it has the best of both worlds, high exhaust speed and high thrust. “VASMIR bridges the gap between high- and low-thrust systems.”(7) This is possible because it uses a magnetic choke to constrict the flow of propellant from the central heating chamber. This allows the pilot to the low gear and possible a booster rocket to escape Earth’s magnetic field and then switch to high gear for intersolar travel.

Thrust: Low Gear: 1,200N High Gear: 40N Exhaust Speed: Low Gear: 10kps High Gear: 300kps

[edit on 15-12-2005 by NWguy83]

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